Centre for Ecosystem Science and John T. Waterhouse Herbarium (UNSW Sydney) in collaboration with AMBS Ecology and Heritage 

Relying on picture books to identify plants? Uncertain about identifications? This 4-day workshop will teach technical skills to equip you with a deeper understanding of the science for accurate identification of native and introduced vascular Australian plants. The course is targeted at professionals and postgraduate students wanting to develop or refresh skills essential for botanical research, survey and environmental assessment. 


Workshop runs annually, usually in August, 9 am – 5 pm for 4 consecutive days. UNSW Sydney, Kensington Campus. Dates will be announced and registrations open around March.

Workshop includes

  • plant morphology and terminology needed to understand botanical descriptions
  • interpretation and use of identification keys, focusing on the Sydney flora
  • key characters for recognising major plant families 
  • intensive practical sessions in specimen identification via lab-based workshops
  • personalised supervision by experienced plant identification specialists
  • methods for collection and preservation of plant specimens
  • use of herbaria and web tools to support identifications, inspection of John T. Waterhouse herbarium 

Required text

Pellow, B., Henwood, M. and Carolin, R. (2009). Flora of the Sydney Region. Fifth Edition. Sydney University Press, Sydney. Available at a reduced price during course registration 

Course leaders

David Keith, Professor of Botany, UNSW Sydney, author of 'Ocean shores to desert dunes: the native vegetation of NSW and the ACT', with more than 30 years experience in vegetation survey and teaching plant identification. 

Belinda Pellow, Executive Advisor/Senior Botanist, AMBS Ecology and Heritage, author of the fifth edition of the ‘Flora of the Sydney Region’, with more than 30 years experience in teaching plant identification and herbarium curation.  

Frank Hemmings, Curator, John T. Waterhouse Herbarium, UNSW. Extensive experience in plant identification for undergraduate teaching, research support and herbarium curation. 

Guy Taseski, UNSW glasshouse and lab manager. Extensive experience in plant identification, herbarium curation and plant cultivation. 


Registration Fee TBA. Student rate available - students from any institution may apply for student rate, limited to 10 places. Registration fee includes course manual, plant dissection kit (hand lens, fine forceps, ruler), use of lab facilities, morning & afternoon tea. Successful completion of the course will be acknowledged with a certificate of attendance. Maximum of 30 places. 


For course enquiries, or to register your interest for the next course, email ecosystem@unsw.edu.au. Everyone who registers interest will be notified prior to opening of course registration. 

Feedback from previous workshops

“The course provided a unique opportunity to learn best practice methods with guidance from professionals in the field.” 

“Staff were very friendly and approachable. They helped explain a lot of things regarding the structure of the plants.”

“Hands on with lots of support. Definitely the best way for me to learn something like this.”