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For getting up close to our tiniest wild plants and fungi, a hand lens works much better than a magnifying glass. Learn how to use this handy piece of kit and discover top tips on buying your own.
Using a hand lens will not only make it easier to identify plants such as lichens, but you’ll also be able to see the beautiful, intricate structures on a plant which are not easily visible to the naked eye.
A hand lens is a pocket-sized magnifier, which you can pick up from your favourite natural history or ecology suppliers to kick start your botanical explorations. When looking for your new hand lens, start with one with x10 magnification, and expect to spend £10-£20.
Hand lenses are not used in the same way as a traditional magnifying glass but are held close to the eye. Here’s how to do it:
1. If you are right-handed, hold the lens in your right hand as close as you can to your right eye (and vice versa for left-handers). If you wear glasses, you can take them off or not – whatever is the most comfortable.
2. Hold the plant between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand and bring it very close to the lens until it comes into sharp focus. Don’t move the lens.
3. Always try to have contact between the hand holding the lens and your cheek, as well as between your left hand and your right hand. This gives you maximum control and allows you to keep the plant and lens steady. With practice this will become easier and easier, and you’ll find you can do it without shutting your other eye.
Now wonder at the marvels of even our smallest wild plants and fungi, and discover the hidden botanical world around you!
Lecanora through a hand lens
Discover the hidden world of lichens through a hand lens
Three Hagges Woodmeadow Site Manager Kara shares what volunteers do, from coppicing to nature surveys, and how you can get involved.
Discover the activities and work that our volunteers in the Cairngorms do with Sam Jones of the Rare Plants and Wild Connections Project.
Discover how you can identify the mosses where you live, and read about Lizzie's challenge to learn 10 mosses!
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