top of page

Earth Moves Flower ID Event with Hilary Ash 30-05-2020 

1.Wildflower ID Basic Jargon

2.Umbellifer Jargon


4.Some recommended Plant ID Guides

5.Wildflower ID Drawing Sheets

6.Plant ID Apps For Smartphones and Tablets

Contact Hillary Here; and the

Facebook pages

Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

Field Studies Council


See Branson, A. 2015 Plant identification: a guide to the guides. British Wildlife 26, April 2015, 251-257.

General and Field:

Rose,F & O'Reilly,C. 2006. The Wild Flower Key. 2nd edition. Frederick Warne (Penguin), London.

but does not include grasses, sedges, rushes, ferns

Streeter,D. 2010. Collins Flower Guide. HarperCollins, London.

does include g/s/r/f

Blamey,M, Fitter,R & Fitter,A. 2013. Wild flowers of Britain & Ireland. 2nd edition. Bloomsbury, London. does include g/s/r/f

Grasses, sedges, rushes, ferns:

Rose,F. 1989 Colour Identification Guide to the Grasses, sedges, Rushes and Ferns of the British Isles and north-western Europe. Viking Penguin, London.

Price,D. 2016 A Field Guide to Grasses, Sedges and Rushes. The Species Recovery Trust, Salisbury.


Hubbard,C.E. 1992. Grasses. 3rd edition, Penguin Books.

Cope,T.& Gray,A. 2009. Grasses of the British Isles. BSBI

Serious ID: mostly to keep at home!

Stace,C.2019. New Flora of the British Isles. 4th edition, C&M Floristics, Cambridge. For a portable version, the Field Flora 1999 if you can find it (out-of-print).

BSBI handbooks on a dozen difficult groups e.g. Sedges, Brassicas, Umblellifers. see

Sold by Summerfield Books

for plant family pictures, the old favourite

Keble Martin,W.1965. The Concise British Flora in Colour. Edbury Press, London

Vegetative key:

Poland,J & Clement,E. 2009. The Vegetative Key to the British Flora. John Poland in association with the BSBI, Southampton.

Courses run by the Field Studies Council

Ways to find local botanists to go out with:

Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland

(Cheshire (vice-county 58) recorder Graeme Kay)

Cheshire Biological Records Centre

Cheshire Wildlife Trust

In Wirral, Wirral Wildlife (local group of Cheshire Wildlife Trust)


Bedstraw (Rubiaceae) cleavers, ladies bedstraw

hedge bedstraw

leaves in whorls of 4-6, small flowers with 5 petals fused at base.

Bindweed (Convolvulaceae)large bindweed.

trumpet flowers

Borage (Boraginaceae) viper's bugloss, forget-me-not,

green alkanet

hairy-bristly, fruit of 4 nutlets, alternate leaves

Buttercup (Ranunculaceae)buttercups, spearworts, kingcup

Head of separate seeds on a common base, on top of bright petals.

Cabbage (Brassicaceae/Cruciferae) hedge garlic, cuckoo-flower

4 sepals, 4 petals, fruit a capsule/pod

Carrot (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae) hogweed, carrot, cow parsley,

sweet cicely

umbrella-flowers. Bracts are at base of main umbrella, bracteoles at base of each mini-umbrella holding the flowers

Chickweed} (Caryophyllaceae) campion, mouse-ear, ragged Pink } robin, stitchworts

mostly opposite, simple leaves, (4)5 petals often divided to base, usually white.(4)5 sepals.

Cranesbill (Geraniaceae) cranesbills, herb Robert

long seedpod like bird's beak, 5 petals, lobed leaves

Daisy (Asteraceae/Compositae) daisies, hawkweeds, hawkbits

compact heads of many individual flowers. Flowers may be tubular or have a flat-strap-like "petal" (ligulate). Heads may be all tubular (discoid) or all ligulate, or have a cluster of tubular surrounded by ligulate, like the common daisy (radiate). The sepal-like green projections surrounding the flower-head are phyllaries

Dock (Polygonaceae) docks, sorrels, knotweeds

tepals (not petals+sepals), often toothed. leaves have a stipule sheathing the stem.

Mint (Lamiaceae/Labiatae)mint, woundwort, selfheal, lavender, sage, rosemary, marjoram, selfheal

square stem, opposite leaves, often aromatic. flowers in axils of leaf-like bracts, sepals fused, petals fused, so each whorl looks like a little tube with 2 lips, each lip divided.

Orchid (Orchidaceae) marsh orchid, bee orchid

flower with 3 back tepals and a distinct lower lip.

Pea (Fabaceae/Leguminaceae) clovers, trefoils, vetches, black medick

flower with upper standard, 2 wings and 2 fused petals making the keel

Plantain (Plantaginaceae)ribwort

Rose (Rosaceae) bramble, roses, cinquefoils, wood avens, hawthorn, apple, cotoneaster, salad burnet

alternate leaves, usually 5 sepals and 5 petals, numerous stamens. leaves usually have stipules at least when young

St John's wort (Hypericaceae/Clusiaceae/Guttiferae)

St John's worts

opposite simple leaves usually with black/translucent glandular dots. petals 5, yellow, often glandular. stamens fused into bundles.

Speedwell (Veronicaceae) toadflax, foxglove, speedwells

flowers 2-lipped, some with spur or pouch at base

Willowherb (Onagraceae) willowherbs

ovary is tube, often long, with sepals and petals at the tip.

called hypanthium



This is based on an article by Hamlyn Jones in BSBI News 144, April 2020, pp.34-40. (Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland `Artificial Intelligence for plant identification on smartphones and tablets’

Mr Jones looked at free apps that try to identify plants from uploaded images. He tested these in late 2019 – but these apps get updated constantly.

No app will give you the correct answer all the time – the best in his tests was Seek, with 12% wrong genus or even family. It is not possible to name all plants from photos – some need examination with a hand lens, detailed measurements, etc. Usually they give a choice of several species, and you need to look more closely and compare with standard floras (see file about those) or their electronic equivalent e.g.




Some apps will let you upload several photos. That is likely to give better results. Success depends on a good clear photo. Take photos against a contrasting background if possible, and to show the flowers, leaves and other key characters clearly. A tree shape taken across a field will not get named correctly!

Ones recommended by Hamlyn JH Jones as giving reasonably good results: can upload several photos but limited to 5 ids a week. Ranks the suggestions as to how likely they are.

Google Lens did well in tests but does tend to ID to North American plants not British ones

Seek will do real-time evaluations from video, and does not need internet access to operate (the only one of those tested to not need live internet access). Did well in tests but not so good on monocotyledons (grasses, sedges, rushes, etc)

Flora Incognita User needs to first identify to herb/shrub/tree/grass/fern. After that had a good rate of correct IDs. Gives a confidence rating for possible IDs, like

PlantNet Needs user to classify photo as leaf, flower etc and select database for Western Europe. Suggests several answers with confidence levels.

Several others were tested but did badly with <50% correct e.g. Candide (largely aimed at garden plants), Bing, PlantSnap, iPlant.Plant identifier.

So use these apps with care. They are good aide-memoires for the times (afflicting us all) when we look at a plant growing and say `I know your name but I can’t remember it’. The ones given by the app should hopefully include the correct one. They will usually give a correct family, hopefully a correct genus, which makes it much quicker to use the standard keys to get to species.

If the choice is between a rarity and a common species – law of averages says it is likely to be the common one!

Various websites, including iNaturalist, allow you to send in photos for identification by experts. Record ( the Cheshire region biological records centre, will try to ID plants (and animals) from photos.

So take the book as well as the phone when out looking at plants.

bottom of page