Skip Navigation

News story

Budding Edge Hill University botanists win gold at the Southport Flower Show

August 24, 2023

Students from Edge Hill University were awarded a Large Gold Medal at the Southport Flower Show for their fascinating display of different kinds of ferns and lycophytes.

A picture of the Large Gold Medal trophy.

Two members of the University’s Horticultural Society, Al-fida Ahmed and Jenna Fitzpatrick, created a science-led stand explaining how to look after pteridophytes, known to most as ferns, and their evolutionary cousins lycophytes.

They worked closely with two post-graduate students, David Hill and Alison Evans, who are both members of the British Pteridological Society (BPS).

BSc (Hons) Ecology and  Conservation student Al-Fida Ahmed said: “We aimed to showcase the incredible variety of ferns and lycophytes that can be grown in a garden, greenhouse, or home. Many of the ferns on show are available from garden centres, while some of the rarer specimens have been grown from spore by BPS members.”

Ferns and lycophytes are some of the planet’s oldest plants having evolved 360 million years ago, long before even dinosaurs roamed the earth.

MRes Biological Sciences student and General Secretary of the BPS David Hill is currently researching lycophytes as part of his Masters degree, he said: “My research and part of our display focused on quillwort, a very unique type of aquatic lycophyte. Despite being one of the oldest plants on the planet and a vital plant for biodiversity many people don’t know much about them, hopefully, our stand has changed that.”

Edge Hill’s Biology Department has been working closely with the BPS on multiple fern research projects looking at their importance for biodiversity and what they can teach us about the climate crisis.  

The partnership was set up with the help of Associate Tutor and former BPS President Alison Evans, she helped the students to create their gold medal winning stand and supports fern research carried out at the University. 

Alison said: “Ferns are an amazing plant group that has survived since the carboniferous period, well before the age of the dinosaurs. Ferns are under-researched but thankfully new research being carried out at Edge Hill is showing their importance for biodiversity and that they could be a source of both biofuel and food.”

Jenna Fitzpatrick, who just graduated with a degree in BSc (Hons) Secondary Mathematics Education with QTS, added: “I first learned about the British Pteridological Society after joining the Horticultural Society at Edge Hill.  

“Working with the BPS at Southport has been an amazing opportunity to learn from the very best and make connections with others in the plant community. Thanks to the BPS we’ve now won a Large Gold Medal which is a fantastic achievement for all of us.”

To discover more about courses at Edge Hill, please visit  

August 24, 2023


For media enquiries only, please contact the Press Office: