Are you a botanist who still shies away from the dandelion look-alikes?  Have you tried and failed to sort out the willows or the docks for instance? Do you find yourself saying “I don’t do sedges . . . or ferns . . . or goosefoots”? This course does not expect to turn you into an expert in any of these plant groups, but to demystify where possible and to get you started. We shall focus on plants that we find on our excursions in the lovely habitats of Constable Country and we shall spend a little time studying and getting to grips with anything that poses a problem for members of the class. By the end of the course you should be inspired with confidence and enthusiasm to tackle “new” and attractive plants and so discover yet more of our amazingly beautiful, intriguing and surprisingly diverse flora.

In the short time available, we cannot hope to get fully to grips with all the “difficult” plant groups. However Ros will come prepared to focus in particular on those groups already referred to, viz.: Willows, Sedges, Ferns, Goosefoots, Docks and “Dandelions”.

It will be assumed that participants will be fairly familiar with other “easier” groups of flowering plants, but that they are beginners at these groups, having never tried before or tried and failed. We shall not be concerning ourselves overmuch with obscure hybrids but rather getting to grips with the basics of each group and how to begin to key them out.

Tutor: Ros Bennett

Ros Bennett is a botanist and ecologist. She was formerly a full time tutor at Flatford Mill (another FSC Field Centre) and then organiser and leader of courses for FSC Overseas. She has written books on flowers and teaches courses on plant identification to both amateurs and professionals.

With the generous support of the Suffolk Biodiversity and Information Service, along with the Suffolk Naturalists Society, we are able to provide bursary funding for this course for those students who meet the criteria. For more information please go to Bursaries for Natural History Courses.


Bring a friend!

If you are attending a course at Flatford Mill at the sole occupancy price, we are offering a special rate for a friend or partner not enrolled on the course to also stay at £50 per night for dinner, bed and breakfast.

Please contact FSC Flatford Mill on 01206 297110 or [email protected] to book this offer.

Example Timetable

There will be an indoor, classroom, introductory session on each of the groups. These will take place mostly first thing in the morning and in the evenings after supper. Most of the daytime will be spent exploring the plants of the marshes, woodlands and coastal habitats of this beautiful corner of East Anglia.

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

  • Appropriate warm and waterproof clothing and footwear (waterproofs and wellies available on loan at the centre)
  • A lunchbox and flask.
  • A x10 magnification hand lens (available on the course for loan or sale, approximately £9)
  • Two pairs of fine pointed forceps and/or two mounted needles (available on loan)
  • Sun hat and sun lotion (just in case!)

Recommended Reading

  • New Flora of the British Isles by Stace (CUP) (Preferably the fourth edition)
  • The Atlas to your own county's Flora if you can get hold of one.

Useful but not essential:

  • Grasses, Sedges, Rushes and Ferns by Rose
  • Any picture guide such as Collins Wildflower Guide by Streeter, The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose and Claire O’Reilley and/orThe Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe by Fitter, Fitter and Blamey
  • The BSBI handbooks to Docks and Knotweeds and to Willows and Poplars.
  • The Fern Guide by Merryweather and Hill
  • And/or any other books you are accustomed to using. Recent editions are best. Copies of these books are available on loan at the Centre (but may not always be up-to-date editions).