This beginner to intermediate course will allow you to identify a variety of common grass species using vegetative features; a useful skill that is well worth acquiring.

Learning to identify grasses vegetatively (i.e. when not in flower) is a rewarding skill. It can enable continued habitat surveying throughout the year or simply allow you to get your botanical fix during the winter months.

This course, with a mix of classroom and field elements, will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be able to independently identify grasses vegetatively. We will cover all the anatomy and terminology that you need to use a variety of keys alongside a number of local field excursions to cement learning and explore new species.  Although not the focus of the course, if we see sedges and rushes out in the field, we can discuss them as well. Grasses form the matrix of a wide range of habitats but are also of huge economic importance. There are about 10,000 species of grasses found throughout the world with around 200 found in the UK, this course will aim to teach you how to identify some of the most common. Ecological consultants, staff and volunteers carrying out botanical surveys will all need to have the ability to identify at least the most common grasses if their job is to be done properly.

Your course will take place in our field centre which occupies a dramatic setting at 300m up the south-facing slope of Blencathra in the Lake District National Park.

PLEASE NOTE the course fee is for tuition only. There is no accommodation provided with this course. If you would like to book accommodation, lunch and an evening meal at our Blencathra Centre please email [email protected]

*Bookings will close if course capacity is reached

This course is for people who need to carry out botanical surveys –  whether for environmental impact surveys, agricultural surveys, BSBI species recording or just for general interest.

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists.

Knowledge Level

Intermediate. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge

Knowledge of flowering parts and key terminology. Some experience in keying out plants, in general, is useful, as would be knowledge of flowers of a few of the commonest grasses.

What will be covered during this course?

    • Vegetative features of grasses
    • Practice using vegetative keys
    • Tips for identifying species

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

    • Describe the vegetative features of a grass
    • Confidently use a range of keys to identify grasses
    • Identify some common species of grass using vegetative features
    • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to progress their learning.

    • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course
    • Upon booking, you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
    • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses.

    • Discounted rates
    • Privately run courses for your group
    • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Click here to find out more!

If we are unable to reach viable numbers for this course, we will inform you of the course cancellation 14 days prior to the course run. We would recommend when purchasing accommodation and/or travel you should take out your own insurance.

Tutor: Laurie Wildwood

Laurie Wildwood is a professional Ecological Consultant and botany tutor who, with his refreshing approach, aims to inspire adults and children to explore and appreciate the natural world. His professional background is in ecology, conservation and habitat management.

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

  • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00 am
  • The course will end at 5:00 pm

Day 1

10:00am Tutor introduction and classroom session covering:

  • Vegetative parts of grasses
  • Anatomy and terminology
11:00am Break – refreshments not provided 
11:15am Identifying specimens using keys
12:30pm Lunch - not provided
1:30pm Field session
3:15pm Return to centre and break - refreshments not provided 
3:45pm Sort specimens and use of keys
5:00pm End of day 1

Please note - accommodation, refreshments and an evening meal are not included

Day 2

10:000am Recap of day 1
10:15am Field session
12:30pm Lunch – not provided
1:30pm Continued field session
4:00pm Return to classroom, summary and final questions
5:00pm End of course


What's Included

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you build your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The course includes:

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

Before You Attend

What to Bring:

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Small bag to carry personal items

If you have them:

  • Hand lens
  • Your own reference book(s) - If you have access to the ‘Grasses: a guide to identification using vegetative characters’, Hilary Wallace, (FSC AIDGAP) ‘Grasses’, CE Hubbard and/or the BSBI handbook, ‘Grasses of the British Isles’

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

Sorry this course booking is closed