Forensic Plant Science

Forensic Plant Science

1st Edition - November 17, 2015

Write a review

  • Authors: Jane H Bock, David Norris
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128015810
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128014752

Purchase options

Purchase options
DRM-free (PDF, EPub, Mobi)
Sales tax will be calculated at check-out

Institutional Subscription

Free Global Shipping
No minimum order


Forensic botany is the application of plant science to the resolution of legal questions. A plant’s anatomy and its ecological requirements are in some cases species specific and require taxonomic verification; correct interpretation of botanical evidence can give vital information about a crime scene or a suspect or victim. The use of botanical evidence in legal investigations in North America is relatively recent. The first botanical testimony to be heard in a North American court concerned the kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s baby boy and the conviction of Bruno Hauptmann in 1935. Today, forensic botany encompasses numerous subdisciplines of plant science, such as plant anatomy, taxonomy, ecology, palynology, and diatomology, and interfaces with other disciplines, e.g.,  molecular biology, limnology and oceanography. Forensic Plant Science presents chapters on plant science evidence, plant anatomy, plant taxonomic evidence, plant ecology, case studies for all of the above, as well as the educational pathways for the future of forensic plant science.

Key Features

  • Provides techniques, collection methods, and analysis of digested plant materials
  • Shows how to identify plants of use for crime scene and associated evidence in criminal cases
  • The book’s companion website:, will host a microscopic atlas of common food plants. 


Forensic scientists, forensic pathologists, forensic science students and educators, attorneys, judges, investigating police officers and private investigators.

Table of Contents

    • Dedication
    • Author Biographies
    • Foreword by Tom A. Ranker
    • Foreword by Haskell M. Pitluck
    • Preface
    • Acknowledgments
    • Chapter 1. Introduction to Forensic Plant Science
      • 1. Introduction to Plants
      • 2. The Early History of Plant Science
      • 3. Plant Poisonings
      • 4. Illegal Drugs of Plant Origins
      • 5. Twentieth-Century Forensic Plant Science
      • 6. Our Introduction to Forensic Plant Science
    • Chapter 2. Suitability of Forensic Plant Science Evidence for Courtroom Presentations
      • 1. The Current State of Forensic Science in the USA
      • 2. Court Decisions Concerning Presentation of Scientific Evidence and Expert Opinion
      • 3. How Does Daubert Relate to Forensic Plant Science
    • Chapter 3. Sources for Forensic Plant Science Evidence
      • 1. Plant Anatomy
      • 2. Plant Taxonomy
      • 3. Plant Ecology
      • 4. Genetic Analyses: Use of Deoxyribonucleic Acid
    • Chapter 4. Forensic Plant Anatomy
      • 1. Some Plant Basics
      • 2. The Human Digestive System
      • 3. Plant Cells and Time of Death
      • 4. Collection and Sampling Methods for Digestive Tract Materials
      • 5. Processing of Forensic Samples Using Plant Anatomy
      • 6. The Role of Statistics in Evaluating Plant Cells in Digestive Contents
      • 7. Summary
    • Chapter 5. Cases Using Evidence from Plant Anatomy
      • 1. Forensic Plant Anatomy Involving Determination of Time of Death
      • 2. Forensic Plant Anatomy and Aging Gravesites
      • 3. Cases Involving Fecal Material
    • Chapter 6. Forensic Plant Taxonomy
      • 1. Plant Taxonomy Fieldwork
    • Chapter 7. Plant Taxonomy Cases
      • 1. Plants Containing “Recreational” Drugs
      • 2. “Poisoned Pen” Letters
      • 3. Nothing Like a Short Drive at the Golf Course
      • 4. “Moss” Not Grass
      • 5. The Burning Torso
      • 6. Don’t Know Why…
    • Chapter 8. Plant Ecology
      • 1. An Overview of Ecology for the Forensic Scientist
      • 2. Procedures and Resources Useful for Forensic Plant Ecology
      • 3. Sources of Ecological Plant Scientists
    • Chapter 9. Forensic Plant Ecology Cases
      • 1. Uses of Forensic Plant Ecology Connecting Suspects to Crime Scenes Using Plant Fragments
      • 2. Uses of Forensic Plant Ecology in the Location of Clandestine Graves
      • 3. Other Uses for Forensic Plant Ecology
    • Chapter 10. Additional Approaches in Forensic Plant Science
      • 1. Palynology
      • 2. Diatoms
    • Chapter 11. Summation and a Look to the Future
      • 1. A Brief Summary of Forensic Plant Science Approaches
      • 2. How to Become a Forensic Botanist
      • 3. Forensic Botany in the Courtroom
      • 4. Forensic Botany in the Twenty-First Century
      • 5. Establishment of Forensic Botany or Forensic Plant Science as a Subdiscipline within the Forensic Sciences and Botanical Science Organizations
    • Appendix I. Materials Needed for Plant Anatomy Analyses
    • Appendix II. Techniques for Slide Preparation to Examine Gastrointestinal Specimens or Fresh/Frozen/Cooked Food Samples with the Compound Light Microscope
    • Appendix III. Making Accurate Measurements with the Microscope
    • Appendix IV. Composition of Solutions Used in Preparation of Plant Cells for Microscopic Examination
    • Appendix V. Methods for Verification of Feces and Vomitus
    • Appendix VI. Maceration of Wood Samples for Microscopic Examination
    • Appendix VII. Photographic Atlas Contents
    • Subject Index
    • Vernacular Names Index
    • Scientific Names Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 226
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2016
  • Published: November 17, 2015
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128015810
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128014752

About the Authors

Jane H Bock

Dr. Bock is a Professor emerita in biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, master’s degree from Indiana University and Ph.D. (1966) from the University of California at Berkeley. All her degrees are in Botany. She taught, carried out research and published scientific work in population ecology and forensic botany at Boulder for over 30 years. Officially retired from teaching, she continues to do research as a forensic botanist and serve as an expert witness for the defense or the prosecution in homicide cases. She also lectures and continues to publish regularly. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, and was a founding member of both Necrosearch Ltd and the Ecology Section of the Botanical Society of America.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

David Norris

Dr. David O. Norris (B.S., Baldwin Wallace University, 1961; PhD 1966, University of Washington) was a professor at the University of Colorado for 46 years where he studied environmental endocrinology of fishes and amphibians and taught general biology, endocrinology, human physiology, histology, vertebrate biology, and forensic biology. His endocrine research interests involve the role of natural and anthropogenic factors (pollutants) that operate through the brain and pituitary to influence thyroid, adrenal, and reproductive physiology that in turn affect development, sexual differentiation, reproduction, and aging. He retired from CU in 2012 and currently is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Integrative Physiology. Dr. Norris also does research in forensic botany and consults with law enforcement groups on homicides and other crimes throughout the USA and in several other countries He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences Dr. Norris has published more than 150 scientific papers and abstracts in environmental endocrinology and forensic botany and is the senior author on several books including Vertebrate Endocrinology (6th edition, Academic Press, 2020), Endocrine Disruption: Implications for Health of Wildlife and Humans (Oxford University Press, 2005), a five-volume work on Hormones and Reproduction of Vertebrates (Academic Press, 2011) and Forensic Plant Science (Academic Press, 2016).

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Integrative Physiology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA

Ratings and Reviews

Write a review

Latest reviews

(Total rating for all reviews)

  • REDASAMMOUR Sat Jul 07 2018

    Good process

    Good process