Plant identification skills

This course is for everyone keen to develop or improve their plant identification skills. We aim to increase your appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of the diversity of the British flora, including many of the plants in your own garden.

We combine lectures, laboratory classes and field trips, and start by teaching you how to identify the main plant groups and important families (module 1, October-December). Then we introduce you to the methods and practice of species identification (module 2, April-June).

We present topics in an evolutionary context to help you understand something of how plants have evolved; we explain the roles played by reproductive biology, geography and ecology; and we help you to become confident using various identification aids, including keys, and equipment such as hand-lenses and dissecting microscopes.

The range of sites we visit on our six field excursions provide you with all-important personal experience and practice.

By the end of module 1, you should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the major plant groups and their evolutionary relationships
  • identify any land plant to the level of class
  • be able to construct a floral formula
  • identify all the commoner vascular plant families found wild in the British Isles
  • use a hand-lens and dissecting microscope properly.

By the end of module 2, you should be able to:

  • identify important families & genera by sight
  • use identification keys effectively
  • identify at least 500 species by sight or key
  • prepare botanical specimens & make records

You will also be invited to attend optional field meetings with the local botany group.