Ethnobotany is one of the primary studies within sociology that is directly related to botany itself. While sociology is the study of people, their environment, and their culture, ethnobotany is a study of these people and how they use the plants that are indigenous to their local region. This of course can be broken up into several different sections from there, include agricultural development, medicinal uses, or even the use of vines for securing logs around a home. Essentially anything that is grown in that local area is part of the study of ethnobotany.
One of the major aspects of ethnobotany that is most understood by people around the world, is the study of plants and their medicinal capacity. While the use of plants for medicines is become less popular in favor of laboratory developed ingredients instead, it is still believed that plants, especially those from the rain forest, could hold secret cures to virtually every disease or illness known to man. Because of this belief, there are still many traditional ethnobotanists that are constantly at work in the rainforests of Brazil in hopes of finding new cures that could be used to treat any variety of illnesses in a much more natural manner.
Ethnobotanists have also become much more popular recently as the trend towards healthier beauty products in the United States has boosted the need for a variety of different natural fragrances and ingredients. Companies are now in a race to see who can find the best natural ingredients that will create the smoothest hair, thin out wrinkles the most, and eliminate dry skin altogether.
There are also numerous studies being done with the use of ethnobotanists on better ways to enhance agriculture and crop production using native plants in areas such as Africa, where drought strikes many regions most of the year. By better understanding the environments and the needs of the plants, ethnobotanists are able to develop plans for better growing these native plants and meeting the needs of the population within a community. With thousands dying from starvation in Africa and many other 3rd world regions of the world, ethnobotanists are playing an ever increasing role in solving the local issues of hunger and starvation without interfering too drastically with the native cultures and their lands. Because again, ethnobotany is more about the people and their use of these natural resources, than teaching these people to use something that is outside of what they would normally have access to.
While ethnobotany is a little known field, it has a great deal of importance in the overall ecology of many areas, being responsible for the research done which has helped to protect many patches of rainforest that support the growth of medicinally important plants. By better understanding the plants of these areas, ethnobotanists are helping to pave the way for a much healthier future for people thousands of miles away from that location, which preserving the natural aesthetics of the area in which they are doing their research. They are also helping to end major issues in hunger, and serve an important role in developing many of the products that we use each and every day.