Applied Plant Taxonomy, Identification and Field Skills

Our scientists provide training in the identification of plant families and in-field survey techniques.


During this two-week course, Kew’s scientists provide lectures and practical information on the identification of common plant families, field survey and analytical techniques, plant taxonomy and nomenclature, and molecular and anatomical methods in systematics.  
The importance of linking taxonomic, identification and survey skills with conservation initiatives will also be explained using Kew case studies. 

Who is the course designed for? 

This course is aimed at PhD students and early-career researchers undertaking all aspects of environmental science but particularly ecology, botany and conservation. All environmental science students are encouraged to apply, but those applicants based in the UK will be given priority. 

  • After completing the course, participants will be equipped with the following skills:
  • Identify around 40 key plant families using morphological characteristics and transfer identification principles to any taxonomic group in the field, using existing identification tools correctly and efficiently. 
  • Apply the principles of plant taxonomy and nomenclature appropriately, including a correct interpretation of scientific names and collections. 
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the role of molecular, phytochemical and anatomical tools in systematics. 
  • Select appropriate methodologies, field tools and technologies for field survey work. 
  • Apply taxonomic and field survey data to species conservation assessments.  

How is the course taught? 

The course is limited to a maximum of 15 places and is based at our world-class Herbarium at Kew and delivered by Kew scientists.  
There will be short illustrated lectures and extensive hands-on practical sessions including a one-day field trip. Kew scientists will demonstrate the key concepts in plant taxonomy, identification and field survey techniques.  
It includes a comprehensive introduction to plant taxonomy and nomenclature, including the role of molecular methods and anatomical studies in systematics. 
We will introduce the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) legislation to place the training in context with science-policy interface.

How to apply for place 

The course has previously been funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), providing competitive bursaries covering travel, accommodation, subsistence and course costs.  
Please contact course co-ordinator Gemma Bramley to find out about future dates and for more information (the course is not running in 2019).