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NC State Extension

Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers

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Identification and Use

Longwood Gardens, one of the premier public gardens in the world, is partnering with NC State University Department of Horticultural Science to provide a fully-online introduction to plants.


September 23 – November 4, 2024 (Instructor-Led)
Self-Study (Ongoing – one year access from the time of enrollment)

We are now offering TWO VERSIONS of this course, the Full Course and the Self-Study course! See below.

About the Class

Acer palmatum leaf characteristics

Image by Wendy Schleicher

Have you ever been on a walk and wondered what a certain tree was? Perhaps you have a shrub in your yard but don’t know what it is? Maybe you want to understand the difference between a pine, spruce, or cedar. We’ve selected 45 popular species of trees, shrubs, and conifers commonly seen in the landscape to help you build your ID skills and botanical vocabulary. Soon you’ll be saying “I know that one!” when you’re walking in your neighborhood or hiking in the forest. This class will also teach you about living fossils, conifers that lose their leaves in the fall, and trees with knees! Take the skills you learn through engaging online live sessions, photo stories, Longwood Gardens Plant Fact pages, discussion forums, and hundreds of beautiful images and apply them to plants you’ll encounter outside of the class.

Full Course:
Join us for 6 weeks in this fully online, self-paced, non-credit course. You can participate anywhere that you have access to the internet. You will have access to the course resources 24/7 for the entire 6 weeks of the class and an additional 6 months after the course ends. There are no required presentations or any set times that you will need to meet online. In addition to the course fee, you may choose to purchase an optional print copy of the online e-book that is included with the course. We recommend accessing the course via Google Chrome on a computer or tablet for the best functionality.

New for 2022! We are now offering a CONDENSED, COMPLETELY ASYNCHRONOUS self-study version of our popular online, plant ID class Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers! This course will be open for an entire year (March 2022 – March 2023), during which students can complete the materials on their own time. Unlike the full course offering, the self-study class will have no live components (instructor interaction, live sessions, discussion posts, graded assignments, and quizzes etc.) and no set times to complete the material. This option is perfect for those who want the information provided in our regular Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers course, but with a more relaxed time frame and a lower price point. If you decide that you would like instructor feedback via discussions and assignments, interactive discussions, additional information, and completion certificates, you can request a discount code to take the price of the self-study course off the full version of Trees, Shrubs, and Conifers. Please note that no completion certificates are offered for the self-study classes, and no credit is given toward Longwood’s certifications.

We can’t wait to see you online!


Full course: Generally offered the second week of July and October.
Self-study: Open for 1 year


Fully Online

This is one of four plant ID courses each focused on different plant groupings that including some favorites as well as a few introductions from the research and breeding programs at Longwood Gardens and North Carolina State University. Below are links to the other classes in the series, including Understanding Plants:


Full Course

  • $189 General Public
  • $179 Early Bird discount (available to everyone until 1 week before the classes start)
  • $98 Master Gardeners and JCRA Volunteers with discount code
  • $59 Extension Professionals with discount code


  • $99 General Public
  • $89 Master Gardeners, JCRA Volunteers, and Extension Professionals with discount code

Email for more information on how to obtain a discount code.

Additional Information