I’m pretty confident with identifying trees and wildflowers, even with a lot of the understory plants we encounter but I draw a blank when it comes to ferns (the best I can do is ‘that’s a fern!’). To increase my fern identifying skills I purchased the Fern Finder before we left for summer camp this year. The Fern Finder is one of a series of books published by Nature Study Guild Publishers that uses a ‘dichotomous key’ leading the reader through a number of steps to identifying a specific plant.
I am an impatient student and I use most nature guides incorrectly by just flipping through the pictures until I find something close. The Fern finder made me slow down a bit and first learn the anatomy of ferns (important to being able to identifying them). By the end of the week (snatching an hour here and there from our otherwise busy schedule) I had learned to identify half a dozen different ferns, and have a pretty solid basis for identifying others.