Grass Identification for Ecologists


Grasses (along with Sedges and Rushes) form the foundation for many of the UK’s plant communities. They are extremely useful botanically as they can tell you much about a site’s ecology, both past, present and in the future. Being able to reliably identify which species you have found can aid your identification and classification of plant communities (Phase 1, NVC and UK Hab) as well as aid in conservation decisions for a site.

Unfortunately, grasses do not have large obvious ‘flowery’ bits so many people are put off attempting to identify them. By observing those characters which help identify each species we will be able to understand why a species is what it is; in time we will also learn short-cuts as to how to recognise individual species. The course will cover what a grass is, structures, identification techniques, use of keys and what habitats the individual species occur in. Use of microscopes in the classroom will back up those characters that we have looked at in the field using hand lenses. 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 floral rather than vegetative characters.

FISC levels 2 and above.

Who Should Attend?

Local Authority ecologists, Ecological consultants, Conservation officers and staff within SNCOs and NGO’s, Students, Environmental managers, Land Managers, Wardens, Rangers.

Knowledge Level

Beginner - Intermediate

Prior Knowledge

No existing knowledge, or experience is essential, but attendees will gain the most from this course if they have some prior understanding of the parts of a plants and associated terminology, have used a key (not necessarily botanical) and have some prior knowledge of UK flora.

Field Identification Skills Certificate levels 2 and above.

Learning Outcomes

  • Be able to distinguish between Grasses (Poaceae), Sedges (Cyperaceae) and Rushes (Juncaceae), both vegetatively and floral characters.
  • Distinguish the flowering and vegetative parts of a range of Grass taxa and identify a range of common grasses to genus/species level using a botanical key.
  • Recognise and name the major parts of a grasses; with reference to how they can be used in practical botanical identification (naming of parts and botanical glossary).
  • Utilise a standard flora (e.g. Hubbard revised), with an understanding of how to use this and other keys more effectively


Please bring your own packed lunch and refreshments.


Tickets Person(s) Price (£)
CIEEM Member Ticket 1 £142.00
Non Member Ticket 1 £205.00