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British Petrological Society (BPS) Associate Tutor Alison Evans with students Edge Hill Austin Rigby and Jenna Fitzpatrick

News story

Edge Hill fern enthusiasts win gold at the Southport Flower Show

Publish date: August 24, 2022

Two students from Edge Hill University have helped the British Pteridological Society (BPS) scoop a large gold medal at the Southport Flower Show for their display about ferns.

The duo, Austin Rigby and Jenna Fitzpatrick, created a stand all about Pteridophytes, known to most as ferns, including information on how to care for them and why they are an important plant for biodiversity.

Austin, who is studying BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation, said: “Ferns often seem to fly under the radar and many people at the show were fascinated to hear about the differences between ferns and flowering plants. I think people who came to our stand will go home and look at the ferns in their garden differently. Winning gold was amazing.”

A picture of many different species of fern.

They supported the British Pteridological Society (BPS) and Associate Tutor Alison Evans in creating the stall for the flower show.

Jenna, who is studying 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 all in the name of ferns. And thanks to the BPS I’ve now won a medal which was a momentous occasion, and one I hope to help repeat in the years to come.”

A picture of leaflets and information about ferns created by the BPS and Edge Hill.

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

Associate Tutor and former BPS President Alison Evans said: “Ferns are an amazing plant group that have survived since the carboniferous period, well before the age of the dinosaurs. As well as being important for biodiversity new research shows they could be a source of both biofuel and food. Thankfully fern research is increasing, especially here at Edge Hill, but they are still a very under-researched group.” 

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