Free Botany Textbooks

Put simply, botany, is the study of plant life. Also known as plant science or plant biology, botany began as humans tried to identify which plants were edible, had medicinal qualities or were poisonous. It covers a range of scientific disciplines which include chemical properties, development, diseases, evolutionary relationships among taxonomic groups, growth, metabolism, structure and reproduction.

Botanists study plant life from the biochemical, genetic and molecular levels of plants by exploring the cells, organelles, tissues, organs, populations and communities of plants.

Since agriculture focuses more on the commercial aspects of botany rather than the scientific, there’s a separate section of the The Free Textbook list dedicated to online agricultural textbooks.

Traditional textbooks in this biological science are like most science books – quite expensive and heavy to carry around. Today’s college students are lucky in that more and more scholars, educators and scientists are providing botany textbooks online for no cost.


List of Free Botany Textbooks

Botany Online – The Internet Hypertextbook

Written by: Alisa Machalek, Alison Davis and Kirstie Saltsman

English translation of German botany text by Peter von Sengbusch. Includes 45 chapters with colored illustrations and photos, animations and diagrams

Forest & Shade Tree Pathology

Written by: James J. Worrall (State University of New York)

He has studied forests world-wide, taught forest biology and works for the USDA Forest Service. Visit James J. Worral’s tree pathology textbook & website.

The Molecular Biology of Plant Cells

Written by: Harry Smith

The University of California Press is making available this somewhat vintage botany textbook – it was edited in 1977 by Harry Smith and contains materials written by educators and researchers from the USA, England, Australia and Canada. It’s my hope that despite its age, it will provide some great instruction for students looking for help […]

The Plant Detective’s Manual

Written by: Gonzalo M. Estavillo, Ulrike Mathesius, Michael Djordjevic & Adrienne B. Nicotra

Plant Detectives Manual: a research-led approach for teaching plant science is a 2014 free online botany textbook from The Australian National University.

Water Wise: Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes

Written by: Wendy Mee, Jared Barnes, Roger Kjelgren, Richard Sutton, Teresa Cerny and Craig Johnson

A scholarly text and gardening guide to Native Plants for Intermountain Landscapes. Available on The Utah State University Press website.

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