Plant Identification and Botanical Keys


This one day course delivered as two online sessions across two days will give participants the confidence to identify a wide range of common plant species using plant components, such as stem, leaf, bract, inflorescence, roots/bulbils, reproductive organs and hairs as identifying features. Training will also cover using botanical keys to identify plants. We will also be looking at the naming rules and hierarchical structure of plants, sub-species and hybrids (taxonomy). Training will include identification of specimen plants with question and answer sessions to follow.


Key areas of study include plant taxonomy and classification (family, genus, species), plant physiology and biology (including reproduction), identifying plant components (stem, leaf, petals, sepals, bracts, hairs, reproductive organs), identifying at family level (e.g. mint/deadnettle: square stemmed, labiate flower), look-alike plants, understanding the laws surrounding protected species and invasive plants and understanding the habitats and 'niches' in which species grow.

At the end of this course you should feel more confident about looking past the obvious features of a plant, such as floral structure and colour, and be able to use different parts of a plant, such as reproductive organs, stem, leaves and hairs, as identification features. You should also be able to use a botanical key to narrow down a plant specimen to species level. To identify plants a 10x magnification hand lens is sufficient for identifying most species out in the field. However, for closer inspection, you may want to use a 20x or 30x magnification hand lens. These can be easily and cheaply obtained through online stores such as Amazon.

Participants will have the chance to get 'hands on' using specimen plants recommended by the trainer that are freely available at garden centres. Latex free safety gloves should be worn when handling plants.

Set in your own location, training will take place remotely via Zoom at a relaxed pace over two half days. Training will include a talk with illustrated slides by botanist, Lorna Bointon and an opportunity for ‘hands-on’ identification of plant species that are readily available from garden centres. If plant specimens cannot be obtained before training, delegates can still take part in remote on-screen identification of plant specimens.


Session Date of session Session Times
Session 1 20 June 2024 10:00 - 13:00
Session 2 21 June 2024 10:00 - 13:00

Who Should Attend?

The course is aimed at anyone wishing to gain confidence in plant identification skills and using botanical keys. This may include land managers, local authority ecologists and planners, conservation officers and licensing staff within SNCOs or NGO’s, students, ecological consultants, environmental managers, wardens, rangers.

This course is also suitable for conservation volunteers who need to gain botanical ID skills in order to conduct surveys and record species for conservation charities.

Knowledge Level

Beginner - Intermediate

Prior Knowledge

No prior knowledge of experience of botanical ID is required to attend this training.

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify plant species using appropriate tools and techniques.
  • Understand taxonomy and classification of plant species.
  • Make assessment of species status.
  • Use safe, biosecure and legal species handling techniques.
  • Recognise personal limitations and areas for development and seeking opportunities to develop knowledge, understanding and skills.


We will take a scheduled break during training for refreshments.


Tickets Person(s) Price (£) Price (€)
CIEEM Member Ticket 1 £142.00 €166.00
Non Member Ticket 1 £205.00 €240.00