Great to hear from Notts. botanist Kevin Widdowson, Education Officer at Idle Valley Nature Reserve, about a new group he set up a few months ago to help support beginner botanists.
Kevin says "Botanical Keys and How to Use Them is a Facebook group set up to help beginners and improvers make sense of their field guides.
"It was set up in response to hearing people comment about their initial apprehension and confusion with botanical keys. The aim of the group is to demystify the process and help people feel more confident with this valuable skill.
"We have a few regular items including a 'Term of the Day' feature and some set exercises on common plant species. We submit species reports to show how we have used a botanical key to reach an identification and we ask for advice when we get stuck.
"There are discussions on equipment, resources, training and, of course, which field guides we prefer to use. (At the moment mine is The Vegetative Key by Poland and Clement).
"We currently have over 400 members and rising. Some of these members are very knowledgeable botanists who kindly share their experience with us beginners.
"It really does prove that a problem shared is a problem halved.
Thanks to Kevin for letting us know about this new group and for giving beginner botanists a helping hand. Thanks also to the more experienced members in the group (including a few well-known BSBI botanists!) for giving up some of their free time to guide fellow botanists through the process of identifying a wildflower. When you're struggling with Stace or poring over Poland, it's great to have some botanical buddies for support!
Botanical Keys and How to use Them is a closed group so Kevin says "To join, you need to find the group (either through this link or by using the Facebook search function ) and request membership. One of the administrators will then add you to the group."
Finally, here is one of Kevin's resources for helping people ID Malva sylvestris: