Dates: July 10-12, 2018 (Tuesday – Thursday)
Location: Truckee, CA
Josie Crawford, Botanist

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Registration: $375 CNPS Members / $395 Non-Members
Capacity: 20 participants
Last Day to Register: July 2, 2018

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2017 Intro to Plant ID workshop, Auburn, CA. Credit Becky Reilly.
2017 Intro to Plant ID workshop, Auburn, CA. Credit Becky Reilly.


Target Audience: This workshop will be taught at a beginner level and is open to anyone interested in learning or improving their knowledge of plant terminology and the basic characteristics of dominant California plant families, and gaining identification experience with common California plants. Those just entering the world of plant identification will benefit from this in-depth introduction to keying and identifying plants, while those with some prior experience will be able to refresh and hone their skills at a higher level.

Description: This is a 2.5-day introductory workshop. We will review plant structure terminology, then learn the terminology and characteristics of some of the more common California plant families. This knowledge will reduce the amount of time required to key most plants to genus and species. Scientific names will be used throughout the workshop. Emphasis will be given to northern California species; however, information learned in this class will be readily applicable throughout California and the world. The class will include classroom presentations and exercises, with at least a third of the time spent outdoors in the field. Common native species will be covered, including species in mixed conifer and Sierran meadow habitats. Advance materials on plant structure terminology will be provided.

To earn a certificate of completion, participants will need to pass a quiz at the end of the workshop, where they will be expected to use the plant terminology covered, recognize plants learned, and identify the family in which they belong.

Participants will learn:

  • Plant structure terminology
  • How to recognize 8 important families of vascular plants
  • How to identify some of the most common tree, shrub, and herbaceous species, by sight
  • Tips for remembering the differences between similar plant families and species
  • The use of dichotomous identification keys, especially of plant families covered in The Jepson Manual, 2nd Edition
  • Additional resources available to help identify plants

The following plant families will be covered: Apiaceae (parsley family), Asteraceae (sunflower family), Boraginaceae (borage family), Ericaceae (heather family), Fabaceae (pea family), Poaceae (grass family), Rosaceae (rose family), Themidaceae (brodiaea family).

Schedule (subject to change)

Tuesday, July 10

Meet at Truckee Town Hall. Coffee will be provided.

9:00 am
Meet and greet; welcome and orientation

9:30 am
Classroom introduction to plant structure terminology and dominant California plant families; photos and major characteristics; walk through The Jepson Manual, 2nd Ed.

Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Field trip to study area plants (site TBA)

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Wednesday, July 11

Meet at field site TBA.

8:30 am
Field study of plants (site TBA)

12:00 pm
Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Return to Truckee Town Hall

1:30 pm
Continued plant family characteristics and intro to keying plants in classroom/lab setting

4:30 pm
Break for the day

Thursday, July 12

Meet at Truckee Town Hall. Coffee will be provided.

9:00 am
Review for quiz in the lab/classroom; Q&A

11:00 am
Quiz on material for certificate of completion (70% score or better to pass); course evaluations

12:30 pm
Workshop concludes

Venue: Classroom/lab portions of this workshop will be held in the East Wing Conference Room at Truckee Town Hall (on the second level), located at 10183 Truckee Airport Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, and nearby field sites. Maps and directions will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • Hand lens
  • Clipboard
  • Field notebook, pencils, and scotch tape
  • Bags for collecting plant material
  • Metric ruler
  • Sturdy shoes or boots, hat & field clothing appropriate for the weather and conditions (e.g. protection from wind, rain, sun, heat/cold, insects, etc.) – some sites may be wet, waterproof footwear is recommended
  • The Jepson Manual, 2nd Edition (optional, but highly recommended) – note that the 1st Edition is no longer useful, if you plan to buy or bring a copy please make sure it is the 2nd Edition
  • Packable lunches for Tuesday and Wednesday, plenty of water and snacks for all 3 days

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide handouts, dissecting microscopes, technical references, and online resources. We will send some advance materials on plant structure terminology.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to walk up to 4 miles at a time along uneven paths and trails, and remain outside for up to 5 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend between 30-50% of the time in the field.

About the Instructor

Josie Crawford is an independent botanist/educator as well as the former CNPS Education Program Director. She was the original creator of the CNPS workshop program, coordinating workshops over a 10 year period. For over 20 years Josie has been teaching people about plants and natural history. This includes teaching Plant Taxonomy labs for 3 years as a graduate student at Humboldt State University, her work as an Interpretive Specialist for Humboldt Redwoods and Hendy Woods State Parks, and Interpretive Aide at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden (native plant garden) in Berkeley. Josie is the Education Chair of the Redbud Chapter of CNPS.


Note: the last day to cancel your registration and receive any refund is Monday, June 25, 2018. Please see full CNPS workshop cancellation policy for details.

Join or renew your membership in CNPS to access discounted member registration rates today!

Registration for this workshop is now closed. Please contact Becky Reilly with any questions.