Grasslands are complex systems whose flora is determined by a range of factors including soil type, drainage, altitude and management. The species of grass present can help tease apart these characteristics and help determine the status: how natural, unimproved and diverse the site and inform management decisions, however grasses for many people are dishearteningly similar and difficult to tell apart.

The course will cover plant structures, identification techniques, use of keys and what habitats the individual species occur in. Use of hand lenses will enable us to identify plants without flowers to species level, using vegetative characteristics. Given the short duration of the course we will concentrate on the commoner and also more important members of this family and focus mainly on vegetative rather than floral characters. Provided at an appropriate time of year, this course will enable attendees to benefit from practicing their identification technique for the rest of the summer.

Please bring your own packed lunch for the day.

Tutor: John Handley

John is the Director of CH Ecology, an independent ecologist and consultant, providing surveys and training on behalf of conservation agencies and Local Authorities. John has a background within amenity horticulture as a Technical Manager, providing advice and training to Local Authorities, prominent sports facilities and private land owners. John is an enthusiastic communicator and botanist.

Example Timetable

Weather permitting we will observe the following schedule:

10:00am Introduction and question: why grasses?

10:30am Collectively examining one specimen in detail to develop an understanding of the terminology used in the keys.

11:30am Tea break.

11:45am Looking at further characters that are evident in a second specimen. Comparing these two specimens.

12:30pm Lunch.

13:15pm Using keys to determine specimens on site and selected collected specimens.

14:30pm Tea break.

14:45pm Grassland ecology: what can they tell us?

What's Included

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

Before You Attend

What to Bring

  • x10 and/or x20 hand lens*.
  • Dissecting equipment (needles and forceps/tweezers) if you have them.
  • Favoured guide or set of keys.
  • A packed lunch and drink.
  • Walking boots and waterproofs.
  • Bring along any specimens you would like help with identifying.