Grasses are an important diagnostic component of many habitat classification schemes, including the National Vegetation Classification (NVC). Unfortunately most keys to grasses require examination of the flower heads, potentially limiting field surveys to only a few months of the year.
Developed by highly experienced field botanist and habitat surveyor Hilary Wallace, this ground-breaking guide uses vegetative characters to all the grass species found in the UK. It will help habitat surveyors carry out fieldwork for much more of year.
The dichotomous key includes line illustrations of the diagnostic features referred to in the key, coloured photos of most species and notes on distinguishing features, habitat preferences and current distribution and status in the UK. The photos and notes are usefully laid out with the illustrated key on the facing page. Nomenclature follows Stace (2019) but in addition both common names and other names in regular use (with appropriate references) are indicated.
The idea for this guide was first proposed by Sue Townsend of the FSC, and developed out of decades of tutoring students. Whilst aimed primarily at habitat surveyors who need an accessible key to both common grass species as well as less common species that are diagnostic of restricted habitats, the guide will be found useful by botanists at any level. The guide covers some 90 species and is based on a single dichotomous key, rather than using sections. The key is loosely based on that of Hubbard (Grasses, 3rd edition 1984), and species not covered in this guide should be relatively easy to find using Hubbard. The key does not include recent introductions, aliens, crop species or hybrids.
This Grasses guide is part of the FSC’s AIDGAP series (Aids to Identification in Difficult Groups of Animals and Plants). AIDGAP guides are accessible identification keys, suitable for non-specialists from age 16+. Since 1976 the AIDGAP project has produced over 40 keys to many different groups.
Although written by specialists, all AIDGAP guides undergo extensive field tests in draft form. As with all guides in the series, the Grasses AIDGAP was tested extensively before publication, by beginners and specialists alike. This, the first published version, was revised in the light of their experience.