This weekend botanical tree course is concerned with the identification of native broad-leaved trees; focusing on accurate identifications and diagnostic features.
Early autumn is a good time to turn our attention to identifying the broad-leaved trees. Soon they will start to transform our landscapes into a blaze of colour. Now is the time to learn what we can from the foliage and fruits, before we have to rely on twig formation and winter silhouettes to help us identify these important members of our natural heritage.
Many species have similar looking species, and even some seemingly simple groups can be complex to unravel and differentiate e.g. Betula and Quercus. Much of the weekend will be spent sorting through specimens and getting to grips with the terminology of the different shapes of leaves and the structure and classification of fruits. We will also practise working with different keys to identification.
Trees and associated Shrubs make up an obvious feature of the British landscape, from lowland heathland species, to upland and montane forests rich with bryophytes and lichens. But our native and non-native trees are coming under direct threat from a number of challenges: climate change, pollution, development of ancient woodland sites, and a number of diseases and pests. Against this government agencies, forestry companies, conservation charities and other organisations are undertaking widespread and widescale planting schemes. The challenge ahead is to make sure any planting is sustainable and utilises appropriate species and sites.
Your course takes place on a 12-hectare estate, surrounded by a rich range of habitats, including the River Severn and semi-ancient woodland, set in the heart of Shropshire with views disappearing into Wales.
PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.
Who Should Attend?
Natural history enthusiasts, students, rangers, ecologists, environmental professionals. This intermediate level course is open to anyone with some knowledge of the subject.
Knowledge Level – Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors
Manchester Metropolitan University students must also select Getting to Know Conifers, and do both 2 day courses to complete the unit Identifying Trees.
What will be covered during this course?
- The course will be delivered through a combination of seminars, laboratory identification sessions and practical field work.
- Identifying a range of woody plant species in the field and in the lab. Systematic approaches to identification using dichotomous keys.
- The problems of challenging taxa such as Quercus, Sorbus, Betula, and others.
- How to record and deal with these groups individually and also as part of recording schemes.
- Techniques for collecting voucher specimens for validation. Problems with bulky species. The importance of collecting vouchers for identification. Use of collector and determiners.
- The use of referees and the validating system for difficult higher plant groups. The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and their system of vice-county recorders and referees who can give a determination for species.
- Awareness of published resources for identification; ie. handbooks, cribs, general guides, online.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Compare and contrast the major Broad-leaved families distinguishing between them and identifying a selection of common species using a range of dichotomous keys
- Evaluate the role that Broad-leaved Trees have as ecological indicators and their use in indicating habitat type
This is one of a series of courses (Units) run jointly with Manchester Metropolitan University contributing to the MSc Biological Recording and Ecological Monitoring and the Postgraduate Certificate in Biological Recording. MMU students complete assessed work after the course. For further details about Manchester Metropolitan University degree programmes please contact:
Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). Email: [email protected]
- See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
- Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
- Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.
For Manchester Metropolitan University students, the Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment. In course tests are optional and less formal for participants who are not MMU students.
MMU students will be required to complete a portfolio comprising of two parts:
Part 1: At the end of the course a test with a range of specimens. Points awarded for correct identification, and critical comparison between specimen and superficially similar/related species. (Numbers, groups and presentation will be covered by the tutor over the teaching weekend) (Equivalent to 500 words).
Part 2: Collect a range of either Conifers or Broad-leaved species (choice to be decided by tutor). Create voucher specimens, with full biological records. Key diagnostic features to be listed for each species, comparing and contrasting how these differ from analogues species (these can be presented on the voucher specimen or separately as detailed notes). Design and construct a dichotomous key to your collection of specimens selecting strong taxonomic characters, that distinguish them from other species within the collection. (1500 words).
Tutor: Mark DuffellMark Duffell has had a lifetime interest in plants, gaining the RHS Diploma in Horticulture and completing an MSc in Biological Recording. He now runs Arvensis Ecology, splitting his time between conducting botanical surveys and teaching botanical identification and survey techniques to undergraduate and postgraduate students, consultancies and environmental organisations.
Book with Confidence
We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here
This timetable is subject to change but should give an outline of what to expect.
If you have booked accommodation and meals with the centre your bedroom will be ready from 3.00 pm onwards on the day of arrival and we ask that you vacate by 9.30 am on the morning of departure.
If numbers are sufficient a station pick up will be arranged at 5.30 pm from Shrewsbury Station.
The evening meal is at 6.30 pm (not included in the course fee - please book separately).
The course starts after dinner with a classroom session 7.30 pm - 9.30 pm
The course ends at 4.00 pm on the final day.
Time will be made available for eating packed lunches during the day (not included in the course fee - please book separately).
The course starts after dinner on the first day with a classroom session that can be expected to end at 21.30 pm.
The morning will include a classroom session followed by a field session on site. After lunch there will be a walk in the hilly landscape surrounding Juniper Hall focusing on the different species of trees and shrubs that can be found on the chalk. There will be another classroom session after dinner.
In the morning, the group will travel by minibus to Bookham Common to explore woodland on the wet Wealden Clay for a different variety of species. Lunch will be back at the centre followed by the accreditation exam (open also, informally, to non-credit-seeking participants). This will last about 1hr 30mins. We will end the course discussing how the test went until 16.00 pm.
Accrediting AgencyManchester Metropolitan University
- Classroom learning covering the theory of the subject
- Field excursions to apply new knowledge
- Expert tuition for which the FSC 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 an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.
PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition and refreshments only. If you would like to book accommodation and meals, including packed lunches, at FSC Preston Montford please email [email protected] Please book early to ensure availability of accommodation.
Before You Attend
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 make any necessary adjustments.
What to bring
Please bring the following with you if you can:
- Hand lens (x10 magnification) - can be borrowed from the Centre.
- Appropriate casual clothing.
- Stout shoes or boots (wellies can be borrowed from the Centre).
- Waterproofs (just in case!) – these can be borrowed from the Centre.
- Small rucksack or bag.
- Water bottle and/or thermos flask.
- Notepad and pens.
- Binoculars if you have them.
- Clear plastic ruler (available to borrow from the centre).
- Stace C.A. New Flora of the British Isles 3rd Ed. (2010). CUP
- Johnson, O. and More, D. Collins Tree Guide (2006) (or others) for trees.