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Registration open until March 27

Education Program - Workshops and Professional Training

Intro to Plant Identification - Part II
A Beginner Look at Nine Plant Families

April 4-6, 2017 (Tuesday - Thursday)
Placer Nature Center, Auburn, CA

Instructors: Josie Crawford, Botanist

Download the print-friendly flyer for this workshop (pdf)

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 half the time spent outdoors in the field. Common native species will be covered, including species in riparian, oak woodland, conifer forest, and grassland areas. 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 9 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: Cupressaceae (cypress family), Cyperaceace (sedge family), Fagaceae (oak family), Iridaceae, (iris family), Juncaceae (rush family), Pinaceae (pine family), Ranunculaceae (buttercup family), Rhamnaceae (buckthorn family), Salicaceae (willow family).


Registration is now open! Last day to register is March 27, 2017.

Registration fees are discounted for CNPS members. If you are not a CNPS member, visit to join now and save!

Please note: class size is limited to 20 participants.

  Date CNPS Members Non-members
Intro to Plant Identification - Part II (3-day course) Apr 4-6, 2017 $375 $395

Cancellation Policy: The last day to cancel your registration and receive any refund is Monday, March 20, 2017. Refunds may be subject to processing fees. Please send cancellation requests by e-mail to Becky Reilly, . Click here for more details on the cancellation policy for CNPS workshops.


Day 1 - Tuesday, April 4
Meet at Placer Nature Center. Coffee and bagels 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.
Noon Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)
12:45 pm Field study of plants at the Nature Center
4:30 pm Break for the day

Day 2 - Wednescay, April 5
Meet at Placer Nature Center. Coffee and bagels will be provided.

8:30 am Indoor lab/classroom, continued plant family characteristics and intro to keying plants
Noon Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)
1:00 pm Field trip to study plants at Auburn State Recreation Area
5:00 pm Break for the day

Day 3 - Thursday, April 6
Meet Placer Nature Center. Coffee and bagels will be provided.

8:30 am Review for test in the lab/classroom and outdoors; Q&A
10:30 am Quiz on material for certificate of completion (70% score or better to pass); course evaluations
Noon Workshop concludes


Venue: This workshop will be held at the Placer Nature Center in Auburn, CA, and on Wednesday we will have a field trip to the Auburn State Recreation Area in the American River Canyon. We will meet each day at the Placer Nature Center. Maps and directions will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials Required: 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 poison oak, rain, sun, heat/cold, insects, etc.)
  • 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 no more than 4 miles at a time along uneven paths and trails, and remain outside for up to 4 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 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, and 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 active with the Redbud Chapter of CNPS.



If you have questions about this or any other CNPS workshops, please contact Becky Reilly, CNPS Events Coordinator, at 916-447-2677 x207 or .

View the complete schedule of CNPS Plant Science Workshops


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