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PNW Plant Identification 3- Dichotomous Key Training is a Course

PNW Plant Identification 3- Dichotomous Key Training

Sep 10, 2022 - Nov 10, 2022

$80 Enroll

Full course description

Course Date & Time:

Saturday September 10, 2022- 10:00am - 2:00pm PST


Course Notes

IMPORTANT: By registering for this class, you are ONLY registering for the third class in a series of three. If you'd like to register for the full series and be eligible for a certificate of completion, please check out this link: (link coming soon). 
  • This course is held in-person at our Bastyr University Kenmore Campus. Participants will follow signs to find Room 55 on the basement level of our main building
  • Registration is open to those ages 12+.
  • Most of the class will be held inside, but please dress for the weather for walks through the garden.
  • There is no food service available on campus at this time, so please bring your lunch. 

Canvas Classroom

By registering for the course, you are given access to a Canvas classroom. This is optional, but it will hold any resources and links discussed in class, and you will need to access it to complete your post-course evaluation and competency quiz (if you take all three classes in the series). Please check your email following registration for access instructions. You will not have access until the day of class. For any issues related to Canvas access, please email us at 


About the Course

A three-part course designed to introduce students to the foundations of Plant Identification.  The first class will teach students about plant morphology, the main method used for identifying plants.  Students will learn about the various ways in which a plant organizes its features, its morphology, and the course will cover morphological traits that pertain to stem, root, leaf, flower, inflorescence, and fruit morphology.   The second course in the series will cover the morphological traits specific to a group of families prevalent in the PNW; and will then take students into the field on herb walks to identify specific species of plants found in the families covered. We will discuss the traits used to identify our medicinal species, how to sustainably wildcraft plants for medicinal use, how to use plants as medicine via learning about the materia medica of the plant, and we will explore the many methods used in making medicine from our local medicinal plants.   The third and final course will teach students how to use the main dichotomous key of the region, The Flora of the Pacific Northwest, in order to learn how to key a plant in the wild to its corresponding family, genus and species.  Students will learn about the tools used in plant identification, the skills employed in keying out plants, and will have the opportunity to work in the field to key out a number of plants using the The Flora of the Pacific Northwest.

Class 3- Plant ID Dichotomous Key Training: 4hrs, learn how to use a dichotomous key to key a plant from Family to Genus to Species

Keying a mystery plant out to its family, genus and species is both challenging and rewarding, and a must if you are wildcrafting your medicinal herbs.  Proper plant identification is vital when collecting plants in the wild, you want your herbal medicine to support you and heal you, not kill you!  During this class students will be introduced to how to use 2 of the most widely used dichotomous keys in the PNW, Hitchcock and Cronquist’s Flora of the PNW, and Eugene Kozloff’s, Plants of Western Oregon, Washington & British Columbia.  We will take a walk in nature and will stop along the way to key plants out using these keys.  If using a key seems overwhelming or difficult to you this class will de-mystify the process and will give you the skills to use a key with confidence.  Students will need to bring one, or both of the above keys to the class for their personal use.

Course Learning Objectives & Goals

  • Attendees will learn about the importance of proper plant identification.
  • Attendees will learn about what tools are used in plant identification.
  • Attendees will learn what a flora and dichotomous key are and how to use them in proper plant identification.
  • Attendees will learn to how to use the most widely used dichotomous key in the PNW, Hitchcock and Cronquist’s Flora of the PNW, 2nd edition.
  • Attendees will actively learn how to key a plant using the Flora of the PNW, 2nd edition, by working with the course instructor to key a number of plants out to their family, genus and species.
  • Attendees will learn about which resources can be used to help them check their keying work.


What to Bring (materials NOT INCLUDED in course fee)

Class will be held at Bastyr University's Kenmore campus, as well as around out in the garden on campus. Please dress for the weather. 

All materials can be purchased at the Bastyr Bookstore online, or in-person Mon-Fri 9-5pm


  1. Hand-Lens (A.K.A. Loupe).  Ten power (10X) is optimal.
  2. Ruler – with both metric and English measurements.  I recommend using a small (6” / 15cm), non-colored, transparent, plastic ruler. 
  3. Sharp cutting tool: single-edge razor blade, scalpel, folding razor knife, sharp scissors etc.
  4. Field notebook, water proof is ideal. 
  5. Writing implement- pencil is needed if using a rite in the rain book.



  1. Two finely pointed forceps.  I recommend straight rather than curved forceps.
  2. One self-closing forceps.
  3. One sharp-pointed dissecting needle/probe.

Required Texts for Plant ID Dichotomous Key Training

Flora of the Pacific Northwest- 2nd Edition, Hitchcock and Cronquist, UofW Press, 2018.           ISBN: 0295742887


  • This book is available to check out from the Bastyr Library, plus many libraries in the area have the book available to check out- We recommend checking with the University of WA library- are a couple copies that can be offered on loan for the class.


Course Completion Requirements (in order to receive a Certificate of Completion)

  • You must attend the full series of three classes held at BU Kenmore
  • You must complete the course exam with a 75% or higher to pass (after completing all three classes)
  • You must complete the course evaluation.

About the Instructor

Crystal Hamby.jpg

Crystal Hamby's knowledge stems from her devotion to all things green, and from her education in herbal medicine.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Herbal Sciences from Bastyr University, where she is an adjunct faculty member teaching classes in the Botanical Medicine department.  Her business, Green Blessings Herbal Counseling and Classes, focuses on private herbal consultations, as well as offering a variety of community-based classes and services.  She believes that everyone can benefit from the healing power of plant medicine, and it is her desire to bring the wisdom of herbal medicine back into the lives of those in my community so that I may inspire and educate those around me to live a more healthful life. For more information on her counseling practice and classes offered please visit her website at


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