Horticulture: Definition & Branches

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  • 0:00 A Variety of Plants
  • 0:43 Fruits & Vegetables
  • 1:30 Ornamental Plants
  • 2:07 Spices & Plantation Crops
  • 2:41 Medicinal, Aromatic &…
  • 3:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Posey

Lauren has taught intermediate reading in an English Language Institute, and she has her Master's degree in Linguistics.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the subset of agriculture known as horticulture. This includes the different branches of horticulture and what is involved in each of them.

A Variety of Plants

Think about the last time you were outside. What kinds of plants did you see? Did you notice any gardens with fruit or vegetable plants, or interesting landscaping? If you saw any of these things, you saw an aspect of horticulture. Horticulture is the branch of agriculture that deals with growing plants used by people for food and medicine, as well as gardens and other forms of ornamental plants. This includes everything from fruits and vegetables to ornamental plants to spices. Anyone who works in any kind of garden is contributing to horticulture.

Horticulture is divided into several different branches, and each one is categorized by the kind of plants and activities that they involve.

Fruits & Vegetables

One branch of horticulture is pomology, which is the branch that deals with fruit. The cultivation of any fruit crop falls under this branch, regardless of whether it is a single apple tree in someone's garden, or an entire orchard. Pomology includes everything from bananas to blueberries to strawberries and beyond.

Pomology deals with fruit plants throughout their life cycle, not just the fruit the plants produce. Horticulturalists in this branch cultivate fruit plants from seed all the way through fruit production.

The next branch of horticulture is olericulture, which deals with vegetable crops. Any type of vegetable falls into this category, including broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and so on. Just like in pomology, people who work in olericulture cultivate the vegetable plant from when it is a seed, all the way through vegetable production.

Ornamental Plants

Horticulture also deals with plants that are not crops. The cultivation of flowers and ornamental plants is known as floriculture and often deals with landscaping, which makes use of ornamental plants to design and alter sections of land. Especially when they are designing public or private gardens, landscapers often make use of flowers and ornamental trees and plants.

Landscaping and floriculture are sometimes separated into two distinct branches. However, since both deal with the same type of plant (ornamental), they are in many ways simply subcategories of the same branch, and therefore they are often grouped together.

Spices & Plantation Crops

The above branches are major aspects of horticulture, but there are more unique horticultural niches as well. Spices, such as cardamom, black pepper, and cinnamon, do not fall into any of the previous branches, but they are an aspect of horticulture.

In addition, plantation crops such as coffee and vanilla are also separate. Sometimes spices and plantation crops are listed as separate branches, and sometimes they are grouped together. As you can see with this branch and the ornamental plants, the definitions of each of the branches can be flexible to a certain degree.

Medicinal, Aromatic and Other Plants

Another branch of horticulture deals with medicinal plants. This includes any plant used in treating illness, such as willow trees. The bark of wlllow trees is the main ingredient in aspirin.

This category also includes plants mostly used because of their strong smell, such as mint.

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