Ptyxis Ecology - Our Botany Blog

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Grass Identification Course makeover!

Get Going with Grasses!

I have taught grass identification and ecology for 8 years now, and each year I keep on discovering better ways to help ecologists learn about the green stuff!

The main problem is botanical keys : none are aimed at beginners or non-specialists, plus keying out can be tedious and time-consuming. But then recognsing species by jizz and learning by rote on a guided walk-and-talk doesn't really do the job either - you need a tool to enable you to identify unknown grasses on your own.

So for 2011 I have written an innovative, comprehensive vegetative key to British native grasses and all the widespread non-natives that you are likely to come across. This key is unlike anything else out there, as it bridges the gap between the academic floras and picture books. I plan to publish it eventually, but until then you can get a copy and learn how to use it on one of my grass courses.

Why vegetative grasses? Well, this is by far the easiest place to start grass identification, as the parts of the plant are easy to see; grass flowers are made up of tiny scales that you cannot really see, count or measure without magnification - and measuring their bits is really too fiddly in the field!

Botanists rarely use keys to identify grasses during site surveys - mostly we use a combination of both vegetative characters and features of the flower, keying out as it were, in our heads. You can learn to do this too!!

Course details are on my website or email me



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