Identify nature

A man identifying a tree using the Museum app, Leafsnap UK

Have you found a strange bug or a new plant in your garden, or stumbled across an intriguing animal bone or fossil while out on a country walk? Let us help you find out about it.

The dedicated team at the Museum’s Identification and Advisory Service can answer your queries about insects, fossils, plants and other wildlife and natural history specimens found in the UK.

You can also use our online tools and resources to identify UK plants and animals, and learn more about them.

Four ways to identify your specimens and sightings

1. Check our selection of seasonal ID guides to see if one is relevant. The Museum has also produced a free tree identification app for iPhone, Leafsnap UK.

2. Upload your photos and descriptions to our online identification forums for help from our scientists and other naturalists. Please tell us as much about your specimen as possible, including a detailed description, where and when you saw it, and its approximate size.

3. Post your specimen or photographs to:
Identification and Advisory Service
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 5BD

4. Visit the Centre for UK Biodiversity at the Museum and show your wildlife or geology specimen to a member of our ID team. Our preferred drop-in times are:

  • Thursday and Friday 10.00-16.00
  • the first Saturday of the month (or the second Saturday after bank holiday weekends)

If you need to discuss the best way for us to help with your enquiry, call our Identification and Advisory Service team on +44 (0)20 7942 5045 or email us.

Commercial enquiries

If your business has wildlife identification needs, please contact our commercial service.

Seasonal ID guides

Free to download, these resources describe some common plants and animals that you may spot in the UK in winter and early spring.

Seaweed guide PDF (2MB)
Identify common seaweeds on Britain’s coast. This supports our Big Seaweed Search citizen science project.

Spiders in your home PDF (1.4MB)
Find out about six species of spider that you are likely to spot at home.

Amphibians PDF (367KB)
Discover more about the frogs, toads and newts found in British ponds.

Bats in flight PDF (1.4MB)
Learn the key identifying features of five of Britain’s most common bats.

Tree identification key PDF (1.2MB)
Identify evergreen and deciduous trees with this step-by-step guide. Check out the interactive version online.

Leafsnap UK app

Identify trees with our free iPhone app. It includes leaf recognition technology and high-res images of 156 tree species in Britain.

ID Trainers for the Future

Develop your wildlife identification and recording skills and learn how to train others with our new work-based training programme.

Identification forums

Become part of our online community and share your ID tips and knowledge with other wildlife enthusiasts on our forums.

Participate in our online identification forums