Magill’s Encyclopedia of Science: Plant Life is designed to meet the needs of college and high school students as well as nonspecialists seeking general information about botany and related sciences. The definition of “plant life” is quite broad, covering the range from molecular to macro topics: the basics of cell structure and function, genetic and photosynthetic processes, evolution, systematics and classification, ecology and environmental issues, and those forms of life—archaea, bacteria, algae, and fungi—that, in addition to plants, are traditionally studied in introductory botany courses. A number of practical and issue-oriented topics are covered as well, from agricultural, economic, medicinal, and cultural uses of plants to biomes, plant-related environmental issues, and the flora of major regions of the world. (Readers should note that, although cultural and medicinal uses of plants are occasionally addressed, this encyclopedia is intended for broad information and educational purposes. Those interested in the use of plants to achieve nutritive or medicinal benefits should consult a physician.)
Altogether, the four volumes of Plant Life survey 379 topics, alphabetically arranged from Acid precipitation to Zygomycetes. For this publication, 196 essays have been newly acquired, and 183 essays are previously published essays whose contents were reviewed and deemed important to include as core topics. The latter group originally appeared in the following Salem publications: Magill’s Survey of Science: Life Science (1991), Magill’s Survey of Science: Life Science, Supplement (1998), Natural Resources (1998), Encyclopedia of Genetics (1999), Encyclopedia of Environmental Issues (2000), World Geography (2001), and Earth Science (2001). All of these previously published essays have been thoroughly scrutinized and updated by the set’s editors. In addition to updating the text, the editors have added new bibliographies at the ends of all articles.