Ptyxis Ecology - Our Botany Blog

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Schedule 9 invasive plant identifcation course

And now there are 40!

Until April 2010, there were only 2 non-native invasive plant species that ecologists doing site surveys for developers really had to worry about finding - Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed. But now 38 species have been added to schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, for which it is a criminal offence to cause to grow in the wild.

Many are rare and easy enough to recognise, but a few are widespread and tricky plants to identify. I have been persuaded to run an id- course on the whole lot, in one day. This is ambitious! But I think it is needed. Ecologists are the professionals that clients will rely on to survey for these plants - and unless you want to bring in an experienced botanist on every Phase 1 survey, you need to at least know what to look out for.

See for details (on a downloadable flyer on our front page news section) ; or email me

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