|Saltmarsh at Shingle Street, Suffolk|
|Which Salicornia is which?|
The course took place in Suffolk under the expert tuition of Ros Bennett. Staff from the Botanic Garden joined other students in an effort to identify various coastal plants, mainly using the key from Stace's New Flora of the British Isles. A key of this kind lets the user choose between two descriptions of a plant. The chosen description will lead to another pair of descriptions, and so on, until the plant has been identified to the level of family, genus or species. Often the key features in these descriptions require a hand lens to be visible. The curious naturalist discovers a hidden world of microscopic beauty.
Many beautiful plants grow in the ever-changing landscape of the salt marshes and shingle. Obviously, many are adapted to the high levels of salt and the regularly inundated mud of estuaries. While these plants may be impossible to grow in Oxford some, such as Sea Lavender (Limonium) and Sea Kale (Crambe maritima) are thriving in the garden.
In any case, learning how to use a flora allows us to identify plants from any habitat and encourages to look at the wonderful variety of detail that makes every plant species unique.