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.
The publication of The Vegetative Key of the British Flora by Poland and Clement started a new era in UK plant identification and it will be the set book for this course. The course will concentrate on the vegetative characters of plants as a route to their identification. We strongly recommend that you obtain a x30 hand lens (see under 'Equipment'). These lenses have a large field of view and give a clear image of some of the characters you will need to observe.
We are repeating our grasses course, which is always in demand, and is now expanded to two days, including field sessions. We will use Stace's New Flora of the British Isles to identify grasses using the floral structure and The Vegetative Key to the British Flora by Poland and Clement (BSBI) to identify grasses using vegetative characteristics. It is not necessary to buy Poland and Clement unless you want to. Bring your hand lenses. Indoors we will be using microscopes but in the field you may find a large-magnification (20x or 30x) lens useful.
John Edgington will be joining the Education Group team for this course, following his previous three popular fern courses. The course will cover horsetails as well as ferns. The set book will be Stace's New Flora of the British Isles (3rd edition, 2010).
We are hoping to arrange a repeat of our very popular course on fungi in the autumn of 2018. Details cannot yet be finalised but will be forthcoming at a later date.
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.