Certificate in Native Plant Studies

General Information
Birmingham Botanical Gardens presents their Certificate in Native Plant Studies program. The curriculum combines core courses, electives, field trips and volunteer service to provide a well-rounded education balanced among the botany, ecology, conservation and uses of native southeastern flora.
Knowledge and skills may be applied to professional and volunteer services in the fields of conservation, horticulture, landscape design, land management and environmental education. Homeowners interested in increasing the beauty and biodiversity of their landscapes will benefit from the classes. The certificate may be a valuable addition to resumes for those pursuing public and private employment in the preservation of natural habitats of native flora.
Core courses and electives will be offered throughout the year and participants may begin earning their certificate with any course. Certificates will be awarded to those who fulfill the requirements within three years, but everyone is welcome to attend any of the courses at any time in any order.

Registration and further information about the program, including course descriptions and certificate requirements can be found below or call 205.414.3958. Members of Birmingham Botanical Gardens are eligible for member discount.


Six Core Courses - 8 hours each

• Introduction to the Study of Native Plants
• Introduction to Botany
• Introduction to Taxonomy/Plant Classification
• Ecology of Alabama Native Plants
• Native Plant Conservation
• Plant-Soil Relationships

Six Elective Courses - 4 hours each

Participants choose six courses from a wide range of possible/probable electives.
• Non-Native Invasive Plants
• Native Woody Plants in Summer
• Native Ferns and Their Relatives
• Native Plants for Pollinators
• Understanding Botanical Names
• Medicinal and Edible Native Plants
• Native Plants of Wetlands
• Native Woody Plants in Winter
• Propagating Native Plants
• Digital Plant Photography
• Native Grasses and grass-like plants
• Native Mosses, Lichens and Liverworts
• Native Spring Ephemeral Wildflowers
• Native Fall Wildflowers
• Botanical Illustration
• Urban Forestry and Native Trees

Two Field Trips (cost variable)
Participants complete two relevant half-day or one full day field trips offered by The Gardens, cooperating organizations, or other approved organizations.

40 Hours of Volunteer Service
Participants complete 40 hours of volunteer service with a native plant or plant conservation-oriented organization. Approved volunteer opportunities will be posted on Birmingham Botanical Gardens website at www.bbgardens.org/plantstudies.


6 Core Courses (8 hours each) 48 hours       
6 Electives (4 hours each) 24 hours    
2 Field Trips (4 hours each) 8 hours variable variable      
Volunteer Service 40 hours      
TOTAL 120 hours    






Graduation Requirements
Successful completion of the series is based on full participation, not academic proficiency. Therefore exams will not be administered.

For more information about registration:
Contact 205.414.3950

For more information about the program:
Contact the Director of Education and Visitor experience, Brooke McMinn at [email protected] or Education Activities Specialist Dawn Coleman Lee at [email protected]


Certificate classes are designated with this icon:


NOTE: If you are unable to register using the Register Online button above, the class may be full, call 205.414.3950.
Due to high call and email volume you should expect a response within 24-48 hours.

Disclaimer: We appreciate your interest in Birmingham Botanical Gardens' classes for adults and children. Some of our classes may cover the edible, medicinal, cosmetic and aromatic uses of plants. The information presented in our classes, whether delivered by Gardens' staff, volunteers or instructors, is derived from numerous sources which include folklore as well as more authoritative sources. This information is intended solely for educational purposes. We believe this information to be accurate, interesting and useful within an educational context, but any information we may provide about the various uses of plants is not intended to advocate any specific use. Due to the very personal nature of individual chemical tolerances, allergies and other possible negative reactions, you accept full responsibility for any use you may choose to undertake of the plants covered in our classes.


Current Students: Volunteer Service Hours Form