Dendrologists are interested in phytoanatomy, which is the anatomy of plants.
Dendrology is a subfield of botany that focuses on the study of woody plants. Many people often consider the term “dendrology” to refer specifically to the study of trees, although it can encompass shrubs and woody vines as well. There are several applications for dendrology, with dendrologists working in environments ranging from logging companies to environmental organizations. Training in this area is offered at various colleges and universities around the world.
As with other aspects of botany, an area of interest in dendrology is decisive identification. Dendrologists learn to identify woody plants and to differentiate between species and subspecies that can show very subtle variations. They also produce identification guides for use by dendrologists and laypersons, and participate in the process of verifying the discovery of new woody plant species, confirming that a discovery is original, determining who deserves credit, and describing the new species in general.
Dendrologists are also interested in phytoanatomy, the anatomy of plants. They can study root systems, trunks, bark, leaves, needles, flowers, cones and other anatomical features that may be present in woody plants to learn more about their function. The study of plant anatomy may also include the analysis of ancient plant specimens, such as those found in fossils, and the study of pollen, reproductive processes, and related topics. Phytopathology is also a topic of interest, with dendrologists studying disease processes in plants that can range from fungal diseases to parasitic infestations.
Widespread research to learn more about woody plants is another area of focus within the broader study of dendrology. Research can include everything from identifying plant species that can be used in environmental cleanup to studying the role of woody plants in society. Dendrologists may be interested in the economic value of plants, in creating pest resistant cultivars, or in developing new cultivars of ornamental plants that may be of interest in the nursery trade.
This field of botany can be developed in the field, in the laboratory, in the nursery, in the classroom, in the forest or in the garden. A dendrologist can work for private organizations, governments, educational institutions, and non-profits, performing many types of work. For example, when people learn about wood hardness ratings, buy furniture made from sustainably produced wood, buy new ornamental trees for their gardens, or use a plant identification guide to identify a plant they see on vacation, they are benefiting from dendrology.