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June Field Botany and Plant Identification Talk-to-the-Experts Event

Last Saturday, we met Nathan Lambstrom at Audubon George Parker Woodland Wildlife Refuge in Coventry, RI.

Walking through the various ecosystems of the trail, we reviewed basic identifying features of various native plants in leaf and flower, as well as practiced the pattern recognition and other techniques used by field botanists to identify unknown species. Nathan provided handouts that demonstrated how to use dichotomous keys, and some of us brought our own field guides to use and practice with.

Nathan Lambstrom (right, crouching), instructing a group of RINLA Registered Apprentices about fern identification.

The walk began in an upland meadow, traversed a mixed deciduous woodland, and passed through a wooded wetland before culminating at a stream bank. By seeing native plants in their wild habitat, we got a sense not only of where to find them in the wild, but also the ecological niches they occupy, and how we can apply that information to plant selection as horticulturists.

Along the way, we reviewed identification characteristics and techniques for woody trees and shrubs, flowering perennials, and ferns. 

Many of the attendees at this event were Registered Apprentices and this was a great session to help folks sharpen their plant knowledge in preparation for eventually enrolling in the RI Certified Horticulturist course.