This beginner-intermediate course will help you develop your skills in identifying grasses using vegetative features! You will briefly look at flowering features before diving into the world of vegetative features, and looking for grasses in a variety of habitats alongside your expert tutor.
This course will include:
- Flowering part features (very briefly) – It is expected that you either know these already, or else do not know them but need to learn enough vocabulary to describe more obvious inflorescence features
- Vegetative features of grasses (in detail)
- Practice in use of vegetative keys, including 1) Hubbard and 2) Poland and Clements 3) Hilary Wallace’s ‘A guide to identification using vegetative characters’
- Introduction to indicator species for different grassland habitats
- Tips for identifying species
The ability to identify grasses using vegetative features is a useful skill that is well worth acquiring. It can be used at any time of year, so that surveys can be carried out beyond the usual June-August flowering season. Vegetative features are an additional set of characters to investigate to complement flowering features when keying out grasses. Identifying grasses becomes much easier and more fun when carried out with the help of a tutor and other botanists!
Please note: the timetable varies depending on which course you book – please see the ‘Example Timetable’ section below for more details.
By the end of this course, you will:
- Have learned the vocabulary to describe the flowering parts and vegetative parts of a grass
- Have the experience of having used a three different keys to identify a grass using vegetative features
- Having visited a variety of habitats you will associate certain species with certain habitats
- Know useful tips for recognising a selection of some of the commoner species of grasses
- If you wish you can go home with a small pressed collection of plants we have found
- Have been introduced to some indicator species
- If of interest, you may also have looked at some of the associated pant species including other monocots and mosses
Who Should Attend? – This course is for people who are required to carry out botanical surveys – whether for environmental impact/agricultural surveys, BSBI species recording, or just for general interest.
Knowledge Level – Beginner-Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following web-page: Framework and Course Level Descriptors
Prior Knowledge – Some experience of keying out plants in general is useful, as would be knowledge of flowers of a few of the commonest grasses such as Cock’s-foot and Yorkshire Fog. However, no knowledge of vegetative features is required – that is what you are coming to learn!
PLEASE NOTE: There is no accommodation, refreshments, or meal facilities provided with this course. If we are unable to reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 4-5 weeks prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.
Bookings will close if course capacity is reached.
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
About the Tutor
Judith has taught Grasses, and Grasses, Sedges and Rushes courses at Field Studies Council centres for many years. She has carried out grassland survey work for Natural England and other organisations. She co-authored the Field Studies Council AIDGAP guide “A punched-card key to grasses in the vegetative state”, by Pankhurst and Allinson.
This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect.
Timetable for Juniper Hall course, May 2023:
- Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 09:30 am
- The course will end at 5:00 pm
9.30am: Meet. Find out what participants most want from the course.
10:00am: Short Presentation: Flowering parts of grasses. (This is useful for “jizz” and for grass taxonomy)
10.30am: Detailed presentation: Vegetative parts of grasses
11.30am: Lab practical work.
12.30pm: Field trip - Grasses of acid grassland and heathland. Uses of grasses in recognising National Vegetation Classification communities.
1.30pm: Lunch in the field - not included; More field work;
3.15pm. Return to Centre.
3.30pm: Break - refreshments not included
3.45 pm: Sort specimens, Use of keys.
9.30am: Sort specimens and meet
10.00am: Woodland Grasses - short walk
11.00am: return to lab and press plants /use keys
12.30pm: Lunch - not included
PM: Grasses of Neutral Grassland (and basic grassland and ruderal habitats)
Timetable for Blencathra course, September 2023:
9.00: Assemble; Introductions
9.15: Talk: Introduction to the structure of grass flowers
(This might be revision for some, and an introduction to others)
10.00: Short walk in grounds to collect a few specimens
10.15: Break - refreshments not provided
10.30: Talk: Introduction to Vegetative Features of Grasses
11.30: Walk: Close to the course venue - To collect common grasses of acid grassland/heathland
12.30: Lunch - not provided (in the field if fine)
14.00: Sort and press specimens
14:30: Study three species in more depth
15.30: Practice using a grass key - “Wallace”
9.00am: You will make a display of two grass species you have collected overnight
9.30: Walk in the venue grounds to look at grasses of neutral /damp grassland
10.45: Break - refreshments not provided
11.00: Practice using “Hubbard” and “Poland and Clement”
12.30: Lunch - not provided
13:00: Afternoon field trip in shared transport
15:00: Sort specimens, press plants. Use keys. Plenary.
Please note accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included in either course.
The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.
The course includes:
- Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
- Field excursions to apply new knowledge
- Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
- Clear objectives and progression
You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing this course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.
Bursaries and Subsidies
This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.
Natural History Bursaries
There are a number of natural history bursaries available to help with the cost of your course. To find out if you and your chosen course are eligible, find out more here:
Before You Attend
What to bring:
- Notebook and pencil
- Lunch and refreshments
- Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
If you already possess the following it would be useful if you could bring them along, but it is not vital:
- Hand lens
- Dissecting kit
- Two or three large carrier bags for collecting specimens
- Grasses AIDGAP - A guide to identification using vegetative characters by Hilary Wallace (£16.50)
- Hubbard CE: Grasses: A Guide to Their Structure, Identification, Uses and Distribution. (Available cheaply second-hand)
- Poland and Clement: A Vegetative Key to the British flora
Any other grass books you own!
Opportunities to attend this course
Sat 27, May 2023 09:30 - Sun 28, May 2023 17:00
The centre is unable to offer accommodation with this course, please book local accommodation if you require overnight stays and ensure you take out the appropriate insurance.
Sat 23, September 2023 09:00 - Sun 24, September 2023 17:00
Please note - this course will begin at 9:00am - please refer to the 'Example Timetable' section for more detail. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at the Blencathra Field Centre, please email: [email protected].
Progress Your Learning
This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, delivered by expert tutors with an approachable learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of natural history. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.
The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our online portal gives you time to study at your own pace and fit the lessons around your own schedule.
Group Bookings Made Easy
If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses. Click here to find out more!
You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be at your fingertips. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.