This beginner to intermediate course will allow you to identify a variety of common grass species using vegetative features; a useful skill that is well worth acquiring.

Learning to identify grasses vegetatively (i.e. when not in flower) is a rewarding skill. It can enable continued habitat surveying throughout the year or simply allow you to get your botanical fix during the winter months.

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This course, with a mix of classroom and field elements, will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be able to independently identify grasses vegetatively. We will cover all the anatomy and terminology that you need to use a variety of keys alongside a number of local field excursions to cement learning and explore new species.  Although not the focus of the course, if we see sedges and rushes out in the field, we can discuss them as well.

Grasses form the matrix of a wide range of habitats but are also of huge economic importance. There are about 10,000 species of grasses found throughout the world with around 200 found in the UK, this course will aim to teach you how to identify some of the most common. Ecological consultants, staff and volunteers carrying out botanical surveys will all need to have the ability to identify at least the most common grasses if their job is to be done properly.

This course is for people who need to carry out botanical surveys –  whether for environmental impact surveys, agricultural surveys, BSBI species recording or just for general interest.

Who Should Attend? – Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists.

Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge – Knowledge of flowering parts and key terminology. Some experience in keying out plants, in general, is useful, as would be knowledge of flowers of a few of the commonest grasses.

What will be covered during this course?

  • Vegetative features of grasses
  • Practice using vegetative keys
  • Tips for identifying species

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Describe the vegetative features of a grass
  • Confidently use a range of keys to identify grasses
  • Identify some common species of grass using vegetative features
  • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am
The course will end at 5:00 pm
Day 1
Tutor introduction and classroom session covering:
Vegetative parts of grasses
Anatomy and terminology
Break – refreshments not provided
Identifying specimens using keys
Lunch - not provided
Field session
Return to centre and break - refreshments not provided
Sort specimens and use of keys
End of day 1

Please note - accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included

Day 2
Recap of day 1
Field session
Lunch – not provided
Continued field session
Return to classroom, summary and final questions
End of course

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you build 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

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

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
  • Small bag to carry personal items

If you have them:

  • Hand lens
  • Your own reference book(s) - If you have access to the ‘Grasses: a guide to identification using vegetative characters’, Hilary Wallace, (FSC AIDGAP) ‘Grasses’, CE Hubbard and/or the BSBI handbook, ‘Grasses of the British Isles’

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

Opportunities to attend this course

This course is not currently available to book. Dates will follow soon.

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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.

If you have any questions about our online courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

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. 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.