Identifying plants can seem a time consuming and daunting task for those starting out. There is a wide selection of field guides available but how do you know your guide has the most recognisable picture? How do you know you have the right species if it is growing in an exposed or shady environment and may not look like the drawing or photograph in your book? What about plants without flowers… how can you be sure it is what you think it might be?

Different types of botanical keys use different diagnostic features so in the field it is often helpful to have a couple to hand – particularly a key to the flowering parts backed up by a vegetative key. Keys we will use on this course include Stace, Rose, Streeter and Poland. Students will also be introduced to lateral keys for different groups. We will spend time around the Centre and also visit local sites to cover as many habitats as possible.

Some learning objectives for this course include:

1. Describe how the guidebooks are laid out by discussing and listing the major divisions of the plant kingdom and their order in the book, and explaining the difference between monocots and dicots.
2. Describe floral anatomy with botanical terms by using a specimen to examine key features of a flower and by labelling a diagram.
3. Revise botanical terms relating to floral structure, different types of fruits, inflorescence arrangement and vegetative anatomy by participating in group discussion.
4. Define the different types of inflorescences and describe the inflorescence type for our specimen(s).
5. Review the structure of Asteraceae flowers and inflorescences by viewing different species in the microscope and keying out a dandelion-look-alike.
6. Explore the flora around the centre and further afield and consolidate learning by practicing identifying wildflowers using a number of different widely available keys.

This course contributes to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements and a Certificate of Attendance can be provided on request.

Tutor: Alanna Cooper

Alanna Cooper is a botanist and is principal ecologist at a local environmental and engineering consultancy. She has experience of botanical survey work and habitat management in both Canada and the UK for a diverse variety of habitats. She is actively involved in the Wildflower Society and BSBI and is convenor for the CIEEM East of England committee.

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

What's Included

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

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • Hand lens (minimum x10 magnification), can also be purchased from the tutor at cost.
  • Outdoor gear for the field visits, including stout shoes or boots, waterproofs and wellies (just in case, but these may be hired from the Centre), a small rucksack or bag, insect repellent, a lunchbox, flask.
  • There will be a lot of standing around outside keying out specimens. If you have a portable fold out chair/garden kneeling mat you would like to use (you will have to carry it yourself) please bring it along; fold out chairs can also be hired at the Centre.
  • Copies of all field guides used will be available to borrow.
  • Less essential but handy: a dissection kit with good fine-nosed tweezers.

Sorry this course has ended