The Ashmolean Natural History Society
We started our identification courses with a pilot basic course in 2002. Following on that success we have expanded our programme and hope to expand it more. We have found that there is a great demand for our special offering, a rigorous, scientific approach to species identification.
The basic course is open to all and our continuation courses are open to our alumni and those who have a similar level of experience.
The course aims to teach the function and use of a botanical dichotomous key, a knowledge of the technical terms used in keys and plant descriptions and a knowledge of some of the main families of vascular plants. The course will use a mixture of short lectures, and guided individual and group or paired practical sessions. Note that the emphasis is on identification rather than recognition.
We shall start, assuming no knowledge, with easier-to-identify families and we shall deal with more difficult families as the year progresses, including the grasses, the daisy, cabbage and carrot families.
The course book will be Stace, A New Flora of the British Isles, third edtion, 2010.
Dr Stephen Harris, Druce Curator of the University Herbaria will come back to repeat his very successful previous course. He will look at the ways in which scientific names of plants can give clues to their origins or identification. Classification and nomenclature will be explained and the structure of botanical words examined. No set books are needed for this course but you may be interested to look at Plant Names Simplified, Johnson and Smith, Landsmans Bookshop and/or The Names of Plants, Gledhill, CUP.
This course offers help with the whole of Cyperaceae, including sedges. It will be classroom-based to give intensive experience of fresh and dried specimens and to look at some of the problems and difficulties presented by this family. You will need Stace's New Flora of the British Isles (3rd edition, 2010) and your hand lens. You might also consider buying the BSBI Handbook Sedges and/or Francis Rose Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns.
This new course will focus on Polygonaceae with a particular emphasis on Rumex, Polygonum and Persicaria. It will be classroom-based to give intensive experience of fresh and dried specimens. You will need Stace's New Flora of the British Isles (3rd edition, 2010) and your hand lens. You might also consider buying the BSBI Handbook on Docks and Knotweeds of Britain and Ireland (second edition).
Dr Stephen Harris, Druce Curator of the University Herbaria, will show how a Herbarium is used and course participants will have the opportunity to use specimens from the Oxford Herbaria to make identifications of other dried material. You will need Stace's New Flora of the British Isles (3rd edition, 2010) and your hand lens.
Email Course information for information about this year's courses.
We are always interested to hear suggestions for future courses so email us if you have a wish list.
We are now offering bespoke courses of two kinds. The first type is tailored to the particular habitat and also to the participants. The second type is one of our standard continuation courses but to a private group. If you have a plant ID need which you think we might be able to help with do get in touch by emailing Course information or phoning 01865 863660.