Plant identification

On this page we point you towards all the books, websites and downloadable files we know about to help you identify wild plants, whether you are a beginner or an experienced botanist - scroll down to see what we can offer you. Check out also the pages dedicated to IDing orchids, grasses, dandelions and ferns and the many training videos and short plant ID videos on our YouTube channel. We also hold regular field meetings, workshops and conferences, many with a Training/ plant ID theme; check out also the ID resources offered as part of our our Aquatic Plant Project and Irish Grasslands Project. 

There's even more plant ID help on offer to BSBI members: in our membership newsletter BSBI News (click on the links to see examples of recent articles on IDing dandelion lookalikes and yellow trefoils and medicks); and members can also consult our network of 100+ plant experts.

Identification Resources: getting started

If you're just starting out with plant identification, check out our Helpful Hints here: you'll find a review of plant ID books in print, tips on ID resources, and links to some groups on social media which offer ID help or which talk you through the various stages in identifying a plant.

Then head over to our plant ID: getting started page for helpful ID sheets and webpages.

Identification Resources for experienced botanists

BSBI publishes a range of Handbooks for difficult plants as well as Floras, ID keys, a selection of Species Accounts and the Plant Crib.

Many of the files from the Plant Crib are available for you to download free of charge from the Plant Crib page.

We also have lots more resources for experienced botanists on this new page

Help trial a new, free resource for identifying wetland plants. John Poland has teamed up with the Freshwater Habitats Trust to produce a draft Vegetative Key to Wetland Plants. Download your free copy from this page, test the key in the field and then ask to join this (closed) Discussion Group and tell fellow botanists how you got on. They are asking for feedback from botanists at all skill levels, beginner to expert, so please take part.

Can't find what you need? Drop us an email to - we'll be happy to help!

Plant experts

Members of the BSBI can make exclusive use of our network of 100+ plant experts, who will name difficult plants for you. There are two referees just for beginners; specialists in garden shrubs and cultivated trees; aquatics and alpines; as well as experts in orchids, grasses, tricky plant families...

Contact details for our experts/ referees are in the BSBI Yearbook, which is sent out to members each year in January and is available via our password-protected members-only area. If you’re not a member, and you are interested in plant identification, you may want to think about joining BSBI.