Botany was among the most popular of the nineteenth century sciences. Men, women and children all joined in the frantic hunt for plants, and the hedgerows were full of people cataloguing mosses, identifying ferns and pressing flowers. This popularity had five main sources:

However, all these factors created problems for the small but influential group of Victorian botanists who wished to pursue full-time careers as botanists. The very things that made botany popular for some participants threatened its standing as a serious science in the eyes of others. One of the dominant themes in Victorian botany is the struggle between a self-appointed, predominantly male elite who were trying to redefine botany as a serious, "philosophical" science and the vast majority who wanted simply to enhance their understanding and enjoyment of flowers.


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Last modified 8 March 2008