Pharmacognosy is the study of basic medications of plant and animal origin, and is derived from the Greek words "pharmakon" (drug) and "gnosis" (knowledge). It is possibly the earliest contemporary discipline (in the form of tinctures, teas, poultices, powders, and other herbal formulations). It encompasses authentication and quality control of such pharmaceuticals, which is done by macroscopic and microscopic investigations of crude drugs. The emphasis and objective of pharmacognosy research has shifted substantially, from drug identification, including the isolation of active principles, to more recently, biological activity investigation.
Ethnobotany is the study of human-plant interactions; however, the term is increasingly commonly used to refer to the study of indigenous or traditional plant knowledge. Ethnobotany is more than just the study of humans' "use" of plants; it also places plants in their cultural contexts in certain civilizations, as well as people in their natural contexts. It entails indigenous plant taxonomy, cultivation, and uses as food, medicine, and shelter.