Forensic botany is the application of plant sciences to criminal investigations.
A plant’s anatomy and ecology are often species-specific, therefore creating a unique environmental profile. Botanical analysis is primarily concerned with comparing a variety of plant trace evidence types that may have been transferred from a scene to a person or an object – or vice versa – and can be vital in proving or excluding contact between a suspect and a scene.
The characterisation of the vegetation at a crime scene can be used to link pertinent places such as body deposition and contact sites and other scenes of interest. It can also be used to link suspects and victims with vehicles, implements, clothing, and other items of potential forensic significance. As different plants are known to colonise the area over a buried body through time, knowledge of plant colonisation and species succession patterns in a particular area of interest can also assist in the location of clandestine graves.
Our scientists can also assist in cases where the identification of plant-based foods in the human digestive tract is required or in wildlife crime cases where poisoning is suspected.