On Friday our botanist Alex Prendergast, from our Norfolk office, led a specialised course in how to identify grasses using vegetative features. The course was part of our ‘Professional Series’ of training courses in which our experts provide intermediate-professional level training on various ecological subjects.
Vegetative identification of grasses is an important tool for anyone undertaking Phase 1 or NVC ecology survey work. Whether you are faced with a site in the depths of winter, or grazed within an inch of its life, it is usually possible to get a decent list of grasses from any site if you can recognise them vegetatively.
A group of professional consultants and naturalists, graduates and site managers, met at our training facility near Lewes, Sussex, for a day which included a mixture of classroom study, field trips and botanical themed games. We first had a refresher session looking at the key anatomical features of vegetative grasses, a selection of the plants themselves and relevant field skills. The group then had a trip down the road to Malling Down above Lewes where they looked at grasses associated with chalk.
In the afternoon the group looked at the main vegetative grass keys, with Alex guiding them through the tricky bits. He’d brought along a variety of potted grasses to study including rare species collected from all corners of the country, which were duly ripped apart as the group practiced working through the keys, and by the end of the day our nice meeting room resembled a guinea pig cage strewn with leaves and roots! As with all good courses the day was finished off with tea & cake and a round of ligule bingo!
We’ll be running the vegetative grasses course again in 2015/16 (once the specimens have recovered) but in the meantime have a look at the other courses in our Professional Series.