Due to Covid-19 we have had to cancel courses from March to 1st August, we hope you will find an event later in the year that you can attend.

This course is designed to give a scientific introduction to the identification of higher plants and also an analytical approach to the use and presentation of higher plant distribution data. Key skills to be developed include introductory sessions on identification of a range of families and groups typically including sedges, grasses, pteridophytes (ferns and their allies), umbellifers, yellow composites and crucifers. The groups that are covered depends on the season to some extent, and typically consists of an introductory session of 1-2 hours will be given for each introducing the main characters and how to interpret them and the keys. We will also cover construction of dichotomous and other types of key, recording of critical taxa, preparation of pressed plant specimens on herbarium paper to produce an archive-quality voucher specimens, surveying and recording of difficult plants, and an example of how to cover a very challenging group such as whitebeams. There will be a field visit to a site in Shropshire where we will look at different habitats and practice using species keys and looking at family characteristics.

This course is eligible for the Suffolk Recording 2020 bursary. Please contact the centre directly to apply.


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. To gain university credits you must be registered for the programme in advance of this course. For further details please contact:

Department of Natural Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, (Shrewsbury Office). E-mail: [email protected]  Phone: 01743 355137

The Unit will be assessed through, for example, identification tests, survey reports, field journals, production of keys, essays or other forms of assessment.

The course is also suitable for non-credit students and for those enrolling on the new certificate course with FSC. For further details on this course please contact FSC Head Office at [email protected]

Tutor: Tim Rich

Tim Rich is a national botanical expert with particular interest in difficult plant groups such as crucifers, whitebeams, hawkweeds and dandelions. He has authored over 300 papers and books on the British and Irish floras and descried over 20 new species. He ran the Welsh National Herbarium for 17 years and is currently researching gentians and three sections of hawkweed.

Tutor: Mark Duffell

Mark 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.

Example Timetable

Please arrive at the Centre between 15:00pm and 17:00pm on the first day of your course in good time for a welcome introduction and evening meal usually 18.30pm, after which the course commences with a short evening session.

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • You should bring a x 20 hand lens (or at the very least a good quality x10 lens).
  • As you will be taking notes in the field, a weather-proof notebook or Weatherwriter is required and some sample bags (Ziplock freezer bags) are useful.
  • If you have a copy of Stace’s Field Guide this will be very useful although there will be some to borrow for the duration of the course.
  • A sandwich box, flask and/or water bottle and a bag to carry your kit.

Recommended Reading

  •  Field Stace is the most useful text, followed by The Plant Crib – others listed below are useful but not essential
  • Jermy A.C., Chater A.O. & David R.W. 1982. Sedges of the British Isles. BSBI.
  • Meikle R.D. 1984. Willows and Poplars of Great Britain and Ireland. BSBI.
  • Rich T & Jermy A.C. 1998. Plant Crib 1998. Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI).
  • Rose F. 2006. A Wildflower Key. Warne.
  • Stace C.A. 1999. Field Flora of the British Isles. CUP.
  • Tutin T.G. 1980. Umbellifers of the British Isles. BSBI.