BSBI supports and encourage everyone interested in botany: beginner or expert, amateur or professional.
- See interesting plants in new places
- Meet fellow wildflower enthusiasts
- Learn more about botany, whatever your skill level
- Develop a specialism, improve employment prospects
- Contribute to plant science and conservation
20 Helpful Hints for Getting Started in Botany
- Why not take part in #wildflowerhour - just tweet photos of plants you've spotted in flower and we'll help you ID them!
- Join our New Year Plant Hunt and help us find out what's in bloom in midwinter - again, we'll help with ID. Gus started his botanical journey last New Year with a Plant Hunt or five - here's his story.
- Try this leaflet by our Training Team called 'So You Want to Know Your Plants'.
- This review of some of the wildflower ID books currently available should be helpful if you are thinking of buying one. If you are in Ireland, you may also want to check out Webb: an Irish Flora.
- The most useful ID books have some kind of key in them as well as images. The keys can seem a bit daunting at first but this helpful Facebook group takes you through the process. Try also this beginner-friendly group for help with identifying wildflowers of Britain & Ireland.
- You're going to need a handlens to get up close and personal with those wild flowers. There's a good range of high quality ones here or try Googling 'hand lens x 10' for cheaper options, although they may not last as long.
- Once you're out in the field with your new ID book and handlens, it's only a matter of time until you get stuck - don't worry, it happens to all of us! If you have a camera or smartphone with you, take a photo of your mystery plant and tweet it to us or post it on one of our Facebook pages (UK or Ireland).
- Or post a photo on iSpot and ask for help with identifying your plant.
- This free online ID key is also very easy to use.
- There are many different kinds of plant ID and botany courses listed on our Training page. Here are a few short courses running this year and aimed at beginners - click on the links to see details: the Ashmolean Natural History Society, the Field Studies Council, University of Leicester Botanic Garden and the Species Recovery Trust.
- If there isn't a training course near you, then how about this on-line identification course? It's aimed at beginners and many of the tutors are BSBI members.
- Read how BSBI Training Grants helped Richard, Colin and Debs improve their ID skills. Grant applications open in January each year so keep an eye on this page.
- Do you know about the National Plant Monitoring Scheme? It's suitable for beginner botanists as well as more experienced recorders, and there are lots of resources to help you once you've registered, including a free ID book, video tutorials and a mentoring scheme.
- Check out the Great British Wild Flower Hunt, run each year by our colleagues at Plantlife (they are also our partners in the National Plant Monitoring Scheme). Plantlife provide spotter sheets to help you with plant ID.
- For children, we recommend contacting our colleagues at the Wild Flower Society who have a range of field meetings and resources to help young botanists get started with plant ID.
- Another great resource for children: Herbology Hunt is the 'junior arm' of Wild Flower Hour and is supported by the Wild Flower Society. Find them on Twitter and try downloading this month's spotter sheet. Previous spotter sheets are available here.
- Did you know that BSBI has two expert plant referees dedicated to supporting beginners? Access to our network of referees is one of the many perks of BSBI membership, which supports you as you get more involved in botany, so you may want to think about joining us at some point. More info here.
- If you use social media, why not follow us on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook? Just click on the icons (top right).
- You can also check out our News & Views blog to see what BSBI botanists are up to across Britain & Ireland and if you'd like to get more involved!
- Find out what's happening in your area and at field meetings across the country - let the organiser know if you are just starting out and your fellow botanists will be keen to help and support you.
Next steps with BSBI
There are lots of different ways to get more involved, depending on your location and interest. You can find your nearest local group, or contact the county recorder in your area, or come along and meet us at one of our national field or indoor meetings - most are free and are open to members and non-members alike, and you will be warmly welcomed. If you are a beginner botanist, our field meetings for beginners can help you pick up helpful identification tips and you can start recording what grows where in your area, or check out our recommended training courses.
Join the botanical community
Developing your botanical skills with BSBI members and professional tutors, who can teach you scientific techniques for identifying plants, is more enjoyable and much more effective than struggling on your own. We encourage you to use BSBI maps and other resources (most are free online) but the best way to learn more about plants is to meet BSBI members and join the growing community of British and Irish botanists. Head over here to find out about the benefits of BSBI membership and please email us if you'd like to find out more.