Certificate in Irish Wild Flower Identification (Online)

  • NFQ Level 6
  • Credits 10*
  • Course Code SG_SIRIS_S06
  • Award Special Purpose Award
  • Duration 1

Course Summary

This module is designed to provide training in the basic techniques for identification of common Irish wild flowering plants. Course participants are required to build a portfolio of at least 100 plant species by collecting and preserving specimens in a herbarium as well as keeping photographic records of the plants in their natural habitat (at the time of collection). Each specimen catalogued is to be labelled with its common and scientific name and the family to which it belongs with the aid of text books and botanical keys.

Workshops will be provided to identify plant morphological features, to demonstrate the use of identification keys and to assist in the identification of specimens. Guidance will also be provided on field work and plant collecting to ensure compliance with plant protection legislation and health and safety considerations.

The course is open to all persons interested in learning how to identify common Irish wild flowering plants and to learn their common and scientific names.

Course participants will be taught how to collect plants, preserve them as dried specimens in a herbarium and given guidance on making photographic records of specimens in the field. They will be taught how to catalogue their material into files, and upload species and common names according to plant family in alphabetical order in Excel speadsheets. By undertaking these tasks the course participants will learn the names of the plants, the families to which they belong, their natural habitats, and the life cycle and morphological changes (foliage and flowers) occurring over the growing season.

Workshops will be used to demonstrate preservation techniques and cataloguing as herbarium specimens, assist participants in identifying the names of plants, demonstrate the morphological features of plants, the use of plant identification keys and accessing data bases.

Course Pdf

Identification References

Useful books

  • The Wildflowers of Ireland. A Field Guide. Zoe Devlin. (2014) - approximately €14.99.
  • Collin's Wild Flower Guide (Britain and Ireland). David Streeter. (2016) - approximately €34.99 for the paperback version.
  • Some participants may also wish to use the Webbs An Irish Flora (2012). John Parnell and Tom Curtis. Cork University Press – around €35. This book is quite technical for a beginner but is specific to Ireland (those of you doing this course for professional development need to get this book)


Online and Part-time Admissions

Tel: 071 9318511

Email: admissions.sligo@atu.ie

Course Coordinator: Dr. Dolores Byrne

Key Course Information

Course layout

What to expect Participation on the course involves the following:

Mandatory – preparation of a herbarium with 100 flowering plants (full guidance will be provided):

Mandatory – attendance at an examination in late August which will test your knowledge of the collected plants in your herbarium (if you wish to obtain the Special Purpose Award certificate).

Optional (but recommended) - attendance at virtual workshops and field-based workshops which will be held on Saturdays (see pg 5). Details of these workshops will be given at the induction on March 19th

Important – field workshops 

Why attend the field workshops?

The field workshops are provided to help the participants identify plant specimens and will involve visits to local habitats to collect specimens. Assistance will be provided in resolving any problems encountered in identifying and preserving specimens. They are also a great chance to meet other people on the course, and to share information and tips on plant collecting and pressing.

The course co-ordinator will draw up a rota offering each participant the opportunity to attend at least one field workshop. If you cannot attend, please do let us know as soon as possible so we can offer the place to another participant.

IMPORTANT: The field trips will be held outdoors, often over uneven ground and in changeable weather conditions. Participants on the field trips should wear appropriate clothing and footwear and bring with them any refreshments, medications (including suncream) or other items they may require. A series of short video clips to assist in plant identification will be placed on the associated ATU Sligo course page (called the Moodle site) and participants will be shown how to access this site. 


  • The examination will involve the participants presenting their herbarium and catalogue of specimens for examination.
  • The candidate will be asked to identify 30 specimens at random in their herbarium and detail their scientific and common names.
  • The percentage of specimens correctly identified will reflect the percentage mark obtained in the course.
  • You must pass the examination if you wish to receive the Special Purpose Award certificate. More detail on the examination will be given as we go through the course


Application Closing Date : 8th January 2024

Career Opportunities

This certificate will provide opportunities for many people to extend their academic credentials and employment prospects. This course will be useful to amateurs interested in nature and field studies, gardeners, botanists, ecologists, school teachers, retirees, and persons interested in biodiversity, environmental protection, environmental awareness, environmental impact assessment, high nature value farming, and environmental management.

Did you know?

That walk in the country will never be the same again!

Did you know:-

  • we have a number of species of insect eating plants living wild in Ireland
  • Ireland is unique in having arctic and Mediterranean plants living side by side
  • aspirin got its name from Spiraea, an old name for the plant meadow sweet
  • many of our common plants are not native but introduced for medicinal and culinary purposes
  • many of our native plants are poisonous

Programme Fees

Academic Year 2023/24 Fees

Course fees is to be confirmed at a later date

If you apply and are approved for an online course at ATU Sligo, you will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of €250 to secure your place. Your deposit will then be credited against the course fees once you are registered as a student. Students at ATU Sligo are also eligible to claim tax relief at the standard rate for tuition fees.

For further information and guidance about Fees and Funding for online and part-time courses at ATU Sligo, click here.

If you are seeking to take your exams online, and you meet the eligibility criteria (overseas students and those with extenuating circumstances), an additional examinations fee will apply. For further information, please visit our Examinations webpage. 

Course Format

Semester 1

Irish Wildflower Identification10