Plant Identification Courses

Education Group

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.

Some comments about previous years' courses

  • I was completely bowled over by the beauty and intricacy of nature; it changed my whole perception.
  • Well-thought out and carefully planned; there was always a tutor around when needed.
  • The course is great as it is; I cannot suggest any improvements!
  • To look back now and realise the breadth of information that has been passed during the course. Thank you for the excellent tuition.
  • The tutors made the whole experience very enjoyable. The work was hard but the attitude happy and light-hearted.
  • Thank you for an extremely enjoyable course. I have learnt a lot and it has given me a lot of confidence to practise my skills and develop my knowledge further.
  • Being able to use Stace seems like a huge jump forward.
  • I enjoyed the informality and the friendliness of the tutors.

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.

2017

Basic Plant Identification Course

Saturday mornings from 10.00 until 1.00.
The dates are 1st April, 6th May, 3rd June, 1st July, 5th August, 2nd September

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.

Latin for Botany

Saturday 11th March from 10.00 until 1.00

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.

Cyperaceae

Saturday 8th July from 10.00 until 4.00

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.

Polygonaceae

Saturday 12th August from 10.00 until 4.00

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).

Herbarium Interactive

Saturday 30th September from 10.00 until 1.00

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.

Bespoke courses

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.

Our previous continuation courses:

  • Cyperaceae (Sedges) (four times)
  • Grasses (six times)
  • Willows and Poplars (twice)
  • Chalk Grassland
  • Aquatics (twice)
  • Herbarium Skills
  • Digital Photography for Botanists
  • Ferns (three times)
  • Vegetative Identification (five times)
  • Asteraceae (Composites) (three times)
  • Charophytes
  • Conifers (twice)
  • How Plants Work (twice)
  • Woody Plant Families
  • Latin for Botany (twice)
  • Lichens
  • Botanical painting
  • Fungi
  • Apiaceae
  • Epilobiums
  • Bespoke courses