The Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants

25th April 2019

This year Freshwater Habitats Trust is trialing a new ‘Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants’ and we’re looking for volunteers to use it, test it, and provide feedback

The key is a product of the HLF funded, People Ponds and Water, PondNet project, and we’ve been developing it for a couple of years, with the help of John Poland, author of the Vegetative Key to the British Flora.

During People, Ponds and Water, we ran a series of wetland plant identification workshops to help beginners on their learning journey, but many commented that the keys were very technical, or covered species they were not likely to encounter, or that they relied too much on flowers which can be inconspicuous or absent for much of the year. 

The Vegetative Key to the British Flora by John Poland and Eric Clement, published in 2009, has become an essential tool for field botanists. Unlike conventional guides which often rely on the characteristics of flowers or fruit, the vegetative key relies on other plant characteristics, ones that can be found throughout the growing season. The novel structure of the key also allows the relative beginner to be able to correctly identify a plant in just a few steps.

With funding from the Heritage Lottery, Freshwater Habitats Trust approached John to produce a concise version of the Vegetative Key, a version which would only include the wetland plant species relevant to pond quality assessment surveys.

We want the ‘Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants’, to be a useful tool for anyone wanting to learn new identification skills. We’ve produced a draft version initially, in the hope that beginners, intermediate and experienced botanists will try using the key during 2019 and provide feedback through the Wetland Plants Vegetative Key Discussion group on Facebook.

Join the group and join in the discussion. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!

We’ll report back on the progress of the draft key in the group, in our newsletter Ripples, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages.