Volume 42, Issue 3 (May 1997)
Forensic Botany: An Under-Utilized Resource
Plants have long been used as both weapons and evidence in criminal investigations. The proceedings of Socrates' trial and subsequent adjudicated suicide by means of Conium brew are in the botanical folklore. In this country, plants as poisoning agents have always been well known, but only since the Lindbergh kidnapping trial have other kinds of botanical evidence gained legal sanction. Botanical resources for forensic evidence remain underutilized because of the lack of botanical knowledge among most people involved in criminal investigations. However, resourceful investigators and scientists with initiative are beginning to change this. Now, evidence from plant systematics, palynology, plant anatomy, plant ecology, and related fields is acceptable. The moving forces behind increasing the uses of non-traditional scientific fields in criminal investigations continue to be innovative criminal investigators and imaginative scientists willing to contribute their talents to forensic efforts.