IB PAS was established in 1953. It is a modern scientific institution conducting research in evolutionary taxonomy, phytogeography, plants and fungal geobotany, the diversity of contemporary and fossil floras, theoretical ecology, and applied and environmental engineering. For the last several years, the Institute has been successfully developing a research focus in genetic studies with a particular emphasis on phylogenetic and phylogeographical analyses.

Research is being carried out by eight teams, employing more than 40 researchers, including many world renowned experts in the taxonomy of vascular plants, algae, mosses, lichens, fungi and slime molds as well as paleobotany and ecology.

The Institute takes part in multidimensional studies of the world’s floras - in Antarctica, Africa, North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. The research activities are carried out with the support of national grants (Ministry of Science, NSC, NCRD), as well as several international projects (among others: EU Framework Programmes, the Norwegian Financial Mechanism, the Polish-Swiss Research Program, Network of Excellence EDIT).

The Institute has modern laboratory facilities enabling eco-chemical and molecular analyses (eg. DNA sequencing) and algae and fungal cultures. There is also high quality optical equipment (microscopes and binoculars) for biological research. The research station in Szarów with laboratories equipped for atomic spectroscopy, and gas and liquid chromatography, and the work stations for precise elements analysis (C, N, P, S) operates in conjunction with the Institute.

The country's largest scientific botanical collection is located at the Institute, containing approximately 1.5 million inventory units. It includes the herbarium of vascular plants, bryophytes, lichens, fungi and slime molds, a rich paleobotanical collection, and the world’s third largest algae iconotheca. The country’s largest botanical library, conducted together with the Institute of Botany of the Jagiellonian University in Poland, has about 220 000 volumes.

The Scientific Publishing House IB PAS that prints publications from various fields of botany operates alongside the Institute. Among others, it issues three important botanical journals: Polish Botanical Journal, Acta Palaeobotanica and Fragmenta Floristica et Geobotanica Polonica.

The Institute also functions as an educational centre in the field of botany. Since 2000 the Institute has been offering International Ph.D. Studies and has also organized courses and internships at various levels. The Institute is authorized to confer doctoral and post-doctoral degrees in biological sciences.

As for popularization, the Institute works side by side with the Centre of Nature Education in which function: the Library of Ecology, the Natural History Museum and the Natural Sciences Film Archive. In 2011 we also opened a modern Botanical Book Centre.