Botany Boot Camp

RGV BioU Mark

Instructor: Michael Sundue
May 27 - 28, 2023 | $285
Course size: 12 students
Financial support available (contact us)


otany boot camp is a crash course in plant identification focusing on herbaceous flowering plants. This course is designed to build the skills needed to look at any plant and ask, “what is this, why does it look that like that, why does it grow here, and how does it fit into the natural history of Vermont?”

Students will be introduced to plant morphology, learn how to dissect fruits and flowers, and interpret their parts. We will develop skills reading taxonomic guides starting with Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide and then advancing to The New Flora of Vermont.

We will focus on both diagnostic features as well as the functional traits of plants emphasizing habit, life-history, pollination syndrome, and fruit and seed dispersal. Our field observations will be placed in context of the big picture of plant classification, and biogeography of New England.

Goals & Objectives

  • Gain skill and comfort in using descriptive botanical terminology.
  • Become proficient using Newcomb's Wildflower Guide to identify plants to genus and species.
  • Practice using dichotomous keys in the New Flora of Vermont to identify species.
  • Master the use of the hand lens as a tool for scrutinizing plants.
  • Gain a deeper awareness of plant evolution, classification, and biogeography.

About the Instructor(s)

Michael Sundue is a researcher at the University of Vermont Pringle Herbarium. He conducts field work around the world to discover and describe the diversity of ferns and lycophytes and has authored over 70 scientific publications. He is also a founder of, a digital herbarium for photos of curated fern collections. He currently teaches botany courses for the University of Vermont and has previously taught for The New York Botanical Garden and The Organization for Tropical Studies in Costa Rica.


We will provide coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare (pastries, etc.) each morning. Participants should bring their own lunches and snacks.

Required Materials and Recommended Reading

  • Hand lens (anything similar to this example).
  • Newcomb, L. 1989, Newcomb's Wildflower Guide.
  • Gilman, A. 2015. The New Flora of Vermont
    • NOTE: Several copies will be available in class; This book is out of print, so it is expensive and difficult to find in hardcopy. If you would like this book, we recommend purchasing the ebook version for $68 and loading it onto a free book reader app on your phone.
  • A smartphone will be helpful for accessing GoBotany's free online flora during this course.


Course begins 9 AM on Saturday at NBNC. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 PM on Sunday.

Academic Credit / Professional Development

This course may qualify for 1 graduate-level credit for an additional $200 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. Participants interested in receiving credit must contact us at least 2 months in advance so we have time to arrange course accreditation.

It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund. Exceptions to this policy may be granted in the event that cancellation is due to COVID-19 concerns.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7