This intermediate botanical course is designed for anyone who would like to increase their confidence in working with a flora as a means of identifying and getting to know more about our wonderful yet dwindling heritage of wildflowers.

The plant kingdom is hugely varied and it can be very difficult and daunting to start to identify specimens, especially for families and species that you have never seen before. Most botanists and ecologists start out identifying plants by comparing their specimens to photographs or illustrations in books. This course is aimed at professional and amateur botanists that want to progress from picture book identification onto ‘Floras’. By using simple techniques and field guides you will identify a wide range of plant families and species and gain an understanding of the terminology found within Floras. You will conduct field visits to practice your newfound botanical skills and using keys, benefiting from the rich range of habitats surrounding the Preston Montford Centre where your course will take place.

Your course will start with a revision of basic botanical structures and terminology, moving on to detailed study of a range of individual species, their characteristics and key features, and how they fit into their families. During this course you will have the opportunity to practice your plant identification skills using a range of identification resources, particularly Stace’s New Flora (3rd / 4th editions). A great part of the course will therefore be spent working through keys, which involves looking closely at the intricate and often amazingly beautiful structure of plants.

This course is a good progression for those who have experience of botanical identification but want to make their identifications more robust and reliable; equally, it will suit the complete beginner who has little or no practical experience (other than picture recognition). A systematic, flora-based approach will lead to greater success, accuracy and confidence – familiarity with using a flora certainly turns a somewhat daunting prospect into an irresistible pastime.

Tutor: Mark Duffell

Mark Duffell has had a lifetime interest in plants, gaining the RHS Diploma in Horticulture and completing an MSc in Biological Recording. He now runs Arvensis Ecology, splitting his time between conducting botanical surveys and teaching botanical identification and survey techniques to undergraduate and postgraduate students, consultancies and environmental organisations.

What's Included