Identifying woodland plants is a course for those wishing to develop their skills in woodland plant identification, concentrating not just on trees and the more colourful woodland herbs, but also on the traditionally difficult groups such as woodland grasses, sedges and ferns.

We will also look at some common mosses and liverworts, as these form a very important component of some woodland types. In order to see a wide range of woodland plants we will visit a variety of different types of woodland. This may include typical base-rich, species-rich lowland woodlands, sessile oak woods with a distinct ‘upland’ feel to them, wet alder woodlands, a range of scrub communities and secondary woodland. We will also discuss aspects of how woodland plants are adapted to succeed in their environments and the communities of plants often found together. Please note that some of the woodland paths are steep.


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]

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

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Tutor: Sally Peacock

Sally’s interest in natural history began at an early age but was fanned into flames by involvement in leading groups in the hills and mountains of the UK as a teacher. This led to a fascination with the plants of the UK, so that seeing plants when out walking is like seeing old friends.

Please note, the fee is for tuition, packed lunch and refreshments only.

If you would like to book accommodation and an evening meal at FSC Slapton Ley, please call 01548 580466.

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.

On Friday evening there will be an introduction to a small number of important woodland plant families.

Saturday and Sunday will be taken up by field trips with evening sessions either within the classroom or Slapton Ley grounds.

There will be a short field trip on Monday morning followed by a classroom-based test in the afternoon (optional for those not studying for accreditation).

Accrediting Agency

Manchester Metropolitan University

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Lunch

Bursaries and Subsidies

If you are aged 18-25, you are eligible for a £50 discount thanks to the Generation Green project, click here to find out more.

Before You Attend

What to Bring

    • As we will be visiting a number of different sites with varying degrees of slope and wetness, it’s advisable to bring both wellingtons and walking boots, (if you don’t have your own wellingtons, don’t worry - there are adequate supplies available for hire from the Centre).
    • A hand lens x10 and/or x20; lenses can be purchased from the Centre shop.
    • Field note books are for sale at the centre or you may wish to bring one with you.
    • A couple of large plastic bags for keeping specimens fresh.
    • A sandwich box, water bottle and vacuum flask.
    • A small rucksack and waterproof clothing.
    • Sun hat and sun screen.
    • Two pairs of fine pointed forceps (available on loan) and/or two mounted needles (not essential).

Useful Books
For reading material, the following would be useful:

  • Rose, F. & O’ Reilly, C. (2006). The Wild Flower Key – How to identify wild flowers trees & shrubs in Britain & Ireland. Revised and updated edition. Frederick Warne (Penguin Group): London.
  • Streeter, D., Hart-Davies, C., Hardcastle, A., Cole, F., & Harper, L. (2016). Collins Wild Flower Guide – 2nd Edition. Collins: London.
  • Stace, C. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles – Fourth edition. Cambridge University Press or Stace, C. (2010). New Flora of the British Isles – Third edition. Cambridge University Press.
  • Merryweather, J. & Hill, M. (2007). The Fern Guide - A field guide to the ferns, clubmosses, quillworts and horsetails of the British Isles. 3rd Edition. Field Studies Council AIDGAP series.
  • Atherton, I., Bosanquet, S. and Lawley, M. (eds.). (2010). Mosses and Liverworts of Britain and Ireland – a field guide. British Bryological Society.