Course Descriptions

Grasses, Sedges and Rushes Workshops

Next workshops | Jun 12-Jun 15 • Indianapolis, IN |

This notoriously difficult group of plants often overwhelms even the most seasoned field botanist.  However, grasses, sedges and rushes are actually quite easy to identify.  The secret to becoming confident with these groups lies in two fundamental processes.  First, it is vital to learn the plants from someone already familiar with them, who can point out the subtle nuances between species and teach you which species are most likely to occur in your region.  Second, you must learn to correctly interpret and utilize the necessary dichotomous keys, with their specialized and precise terminology.  In this workshop, we will accomplish both of those tasks. 

The course begins in the classroom where you will become intimately familiar with the terminology and structure of each of the three groups.  We will also begin to work with dichotomous keys during this portion of the workshop.  The remainder of the workshop will take place in the field where you will learn a large number of species that occur in the region.  Throughout the field portion of the workshop, we will allow time to key out some of the plants as we encounter them.  Past students have commented that this part of the class was invaluable.  This course is suited for anyone who is ready to take on this fascinating myriad of species, but may be more rewarding to persons who already have some experience with plant identification.

Midwestern Flora Workshops

Our Midwestern Flora workshops offer a comprehensive introduction to the most commonly encountered Midwestern plant species.  The course begins with a half-day introduction to botanical terminology and a discussion of major plant families and genera.  The remaining time is spent in the field learning the major species that define commonly encountered community types.  The course focuses on vegetative field characters that, unlike flowers, allow the plants to be readily identified throughout the growing season.  This aspect of the course has proven very beneficial to persons seeking the ability to accurately characterize communities and rapidly assess their floristic quality.  Additionally, the course serves as a solid foundation upon which to build a more fluent knowledge of Midwestern flora, by acquainting students with notoriously difficult plant groups.  This course is general enough to satisfy students with no botanical background, but comprehensive enough to please seasoned professionals.

Ozarks Flora Workshops

Next workshops | May 14-May 18 • Rolla, MO |

This class provides an in-depth introduction to the plants of the beautiful Ozarks region of Missouri.  But many of the species covered are applicable to regions outside the Ozarks!  The course will cover a variety of habitats including upland woodland/forest, dolomite glade, fen, old field and mesic lowland forest.  As with most of our classes, the course begins with a half day classroom review of botanical terminology and keys.  The remainder of the workshop will take place entirely in the field, where workshop participants will become intimately familiar with many intriguing plant species.  While we will focus on teaching as many plants as possible, special care will be given to difficult groups such as legumes, asters, goldenrods and sedges.  Throughout the class, we will incorporate review activities and informal quizzes to ensure that participants leave the class with a firm grasp of the species covered.  This class is an excellent foundation for anyone working in the Midwest!

Prairie Flora Workshops

Our Prairie Flora Workshops are a must for anyone working with these beautiful and diverse plant communities.  What better way to learn and gain a deeper insight into prairies and prairie plants than to spend four days studying them in the field?  Each workshop begins with a half day introduction to botanical terminology and the characters of major plant families.  The remainder of the course is spent in the field where you will learn to identify and name numerous prairie species, often by vegetative characters.  This includes, but is not limited to, grasses, sedges, legumes and composites.  While our Prairie Flora Workshops focus on native plants, ample time will be devoted to old field species and the exotics that impede prairie restoration.  In addition to teaching plant identification, we also include historical, cultural and ecological notes of interest.  This course is ideal for land managers and prairie enthusiasts alike.

Tree Identification Workshops

Our Tree Identification Workshops are an excellent opportunity for you to hone your knowledge of trees and other woody species in the Midwest.  The course is three days long and begins with a concise classroom introduction to plant terminology.  During this portion of the class, we will also introduce key concepts regarding some of the more complex genera in the region, such as the oaks, hickories, ashes and maples.  However, most of the class will take place outdoors where we will visit a variety of plant community types.  Participants will learn to identify woody plants to the species level using twigs, buds, bark, habitat and leaf characters.  Because we do not focus solely on leaf characteristics, this class will equip you with the ability to identify many of these species even during the winter months.  We will also include interesting ecological and cultural notes about many of the captivating species that we encounter. This class is suitable for all skill levels.

Wetland Flora Workshops

Given the issues surrounding wetlands today, it is vital for land managers, conservationists and consultants to possess an intimate knowledge of wetland flora.  Through this course, participants will learn to quickly identify the majority of wetland species as well as those species of wetland/upland interfaces.  Special attention is given to notoriously difficult groups such as sedges, grasses and composites.  Like our other courses, this class begins with a half day introduction to botanical terminology and a discussion of major plant families.  The remainder of the course is conducted in the field and is based largely on vegetative characters.  In order to ensure that students assimilate the material, instructors utilize various exercises and activities that allow students to use, review and thus fortify the plant names and characters as they learn them.  This course includes discussion of Floristic Quality Assessment, Wetland Indicator Status, invasive species and various topics relating to the plant ecology of wetlands. This course can be used to partially fulfill the criteria of the Society of Wetland Scientist's Professional Wetland Scientist certification.

Winter Plant I.D.

Our Winter Plant I.D. Workshops are intended for those who do tree surveys or wetland delineations in the dormant season.  We will teach trees as well as common herbaceous plants, especially herbaceous plants that are likely to remain standing throughout the winter season.  Herbaceous plants will be taught in their “forensic” state.  By the end of the course, participants will be able to identify trees in the absence of leaves, and will have a firm grasp on many common herbaceous species in winter.

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Phone: 317-430-6566 |