Dates are being revised due to Covid-19

Trees form an imposing and ecologically important part of the landscape of the British Isles but they are much more interesting if we know their names! During this course, we will learn how to correctly identify deciduous trees, and will become familiar with the more commonly-found ones. If you can’t tell an Ash from an Oak, this is the course for you! We will look at features such as leaves, bark, flowers and fruits, how they are arranged on the tree, and how these clues can be used to identify them. We will learn how to recognise the three main types of leaf margin; how to spot the difference between a compound leaf (with leaflets) and a simple leaf; and how to understand and recognise basic botanical terms describing leaf arrangement and other useful features. As well as learning the more formal side of tree identification, we will learn, in passing, about how leaf colour affects growth, how to make a tree immortal, and the Dogwood Magic Trick. Course fee includes FSC fold out chart: The Tree Name Trail.

Course objectives:

By the end of the day, delegates will have a clear understanding of how to use a simple Botanical Key, and will be able to use the Tree Name Trail with confidence, allowing you to identify common trees with ease. You will become familiar with the MASHED and CHOKE acronyms, and will have learned how a Crib (Table of Differences) works, and how to create your own, which you can then use to make identification quicker, easier and more fun! Delegates will also understand the benefits and limitations of using various reference materials, and the importance of personalising your own reference books; and hopefully will have learned that Botany is not a hard science, and that although plants and trees “usually” fit their description, there are times when they may vary, so we will also have learned what to do when a tree defies identification. In addition, delegates will have been introduced to botanical nomenclature (“Latin Is Not Your Enemy”), which is more fun than it sounds.

Tutor: Rachel Cassidy

Rachel Cassidy is a Professional Gardener, Plantsmith, Field Botanist, Consultant Forensic Horticulturalist, gardening Journalist, and Author, having published over two dozen Botany and Gardening books, including introductions to identifying Conifers and Broadleaved Trees. In addition, she writes regularly about gardening on her website, .Rachel makes it her mission to demystify botany for beginners and improvers, aiming to simplify, without dumbing down. Trees have been her passion for many years, and she loves to pass on her knowledge and enthusiasm for these gentle giants of the landscape!

Example Timetable

09.30 Registration
10.00 Welcome, health and safety and introduction
10.15 Morning session
13.00 Lunch
13.30 Afternoon session
15.50 Taking your interest further and course reviews
16.00 Course finishes

All timings are approximate. This is an outline programme and may be subject to change according to the weather, requirements of the group or access restrictions to field sites on the day of the course. Our courses include some classroom sessions but field visits may be a few hours long and involve walking over uneven ground.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • Personal and Travel Insurance

Before You Attend

What to bring

  • Sensible clothing for the weather
  • Appropriate footwear
  • Lunch and Drinks (refreshments are provided)


  • A hand lens