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Plant Identification Lab

  • Jan 13, 2014 · 7:00 PM
  • Maryland Naturalist Center

Would you like to sharpen your plant ID skills?  Join us as we identify the specimens collected in late September at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park.  We’ll use plant keys, hand lenses, microscopes, and reference collections from the Natural History Society of Maryland.  This will not be a formal class, but rather an informal time for you to work with other interested people and with researchers conducting the Ag Center inventory. 

During these four initial labs (January 13 and 27 and February 10 and 24, 2014), we will examine and identify the plants from a wet agricultural field, sharing our knowledge as we focus on a variety of plant types, including trees and shrubs, grasses, sedges, and herbaceous plants.  After February we plan to offer additional lab series as the Ag Center project continues through the seasons of the year and the varied habitats at the Baltimore County property.

All levels of experience are welcome—from those with a basic knowledge of how to use a plant key to those who are experienced botanists.  If you’re brand new to plant identification, you may instead consider attending the formal plant identification class starting this spring (to be posted at, where you can learn basic plant vocabulary and the keying process.

Bring a hand lens if you have one; we will have lenses and keys to share.


Members of the Natural History Society of Maryland - $20 for all four sessions, paid at the first session; $10 walk-ins for individual sessions.

Non-members of the Natural History Society of Maryland - $10 walk-ins only.

Pay by check or cash at the door.

Become a member at (individual $25; family $35).

The sessions will be facilitated by Charlie Davis and Judy FultonCharlie is a professional ecologist who is currently inventorying the plants on the cliffs of the Harpers Ferry Historic Park for the National Park Service.  Judy is a researcher conducting an inventory at the Ag Center.  She’s a Master Gardener and an active member of the Maryland Native Plant Society.

Both Charlie and Judy are volunteers, so your money for these sessions will go directly to support the programs, the nature collections, and the building that make this kind of nature education possible. 

Join or login to comment.

  • Hugh S.

    Great fun. Well organized with a good mix of expertise from professional biologists to individuals who had never heard of a plant key before. The time flew by with everyone wrapped up in the challenge of keying out the plants and looking forward to the next plant after each was ID'd.

    1 · January 14, 2014

  • Tami E.

    Wonderful, inspiring, highly educational!

    January 13, 2014

  • OneToughCookie

    Not knowing what a plant key is, I will wait for the spring training session.

    January 11, 2014

    • Amy Y.

      Yes, we hope to see you at the spring training session! FYI a plant key is a type of manual that helps you determine plant species based on observed traits; you look at your plant and see whether it has "alternate leaves" or "opposite leaves", count the number of petals, etc. There are keys for identifying plants based on flowers, fruits, and even deciduous trees in winter! Once you learn the vocab and basic plant structures, it can be a fun puzzle/challenge trying to figure out the plants that you encounter.

      January 12, 2014

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