Marsh Botany Award

This Award recognises an individual’s lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution in the field of botanical research and conservation.

Nominations for the Award are put forward and judged by a committee made up of experts in the field of botany. Details of the winner are put forward to the MCT for final approval.

Pictured: Dr Chris Preston, winner of the 2015 Marsh Botany Award

John Richards and David McCosh 2022

John Richards

John has 50 years of experience on the taxonomy of Taraxacum species (dandelions). He was author of the first monograph on British dandelions in 1972, co-author of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Dandelion Handbook No.9 in 1997 and the sole author of the Field Handbook to British and Irish Dandelions which was published in 2021. He has been publishing papers on dandelions since the early 1970s, and has named many new species. John also holds the national database of dandelion records, runs annual dandelion field workshops and delivers online workshops in identifying dandelions. 

David McCosh

David is an expert on British and Irish hawkweeds, and he started compiling data to map these plants some 40 years ago. David’s database of hawkweed records is the primary source of information on these plants. He was the first author of the first edition of the Atlas of British and Irish Hawkweeds (2011), and more recently, was the first author of the second edition of the Atlas (2018) and joint author of a monograph of two sections of Hieracium in Britain and Ireland (2021). In addition, David has named 27 new taxa of Hieracium.  

Previous Winners

Arthur Chater and Patricia Wolseley 

Arthur Chater 

Arthur is a highly accomplished botanist and mycologist with a long record in publishing important works on the plants and fungi of Wales and beyond. Among his many publications, he was a co-author of Sedges of Britain (1982) and author of the monumental Flora of Cardiganshire (2010), the most comprehensive source of information on the Welsh county. Always generous with his knowledge, Arthur was acknowledged in all four editions of the New Flora of the British Isles. In the 3rd edition, Clive Stace (the author, and recipient of the Marsh Botany Award in 2019) made special mention of Arthur “for valuable discussions and sound help and advice over many years”. 


Patricia Wolseley  

Patricia is a renowned expert on lichens, who previously worked at the Natural History Museum, London. In a time of great concern about the health-related aspects of air quality and pollution, she has been a pioneer of the development of lichens as indicators of air quality. Patricia created a survey for the Open Air Laboratories network that allows air quality and pollution levels to be assessed based on the lichens found in an area. She has also conducted many training sessions in the field on how to identify lichens and shared her knowledge with colleagues and volunteers alike.  

Ian Bennallick

Ian is well-known and highly respected for his botanical activities in Cornwall and further afield. He is the Botanical Society for Britain and Ireland (BSBI) Vice-County Recorder for East Cornwall and the Coordinator of the Botanical Cornwall Group. Ian has surveyed rare species, including shore dock, for Natural England and has monitored the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the county. He also a member of the Cornish Biodiversity Network. 

Ian was lead author of the second edition of “The Red Data Book for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly” (2009) and joint co-author (with Rosemary Parslow) of “The New Flora of the Isles of Scilly” (2017). His other publications include papers on rediscovery of plants thought to be extinct in Cornwall, including perennial centaury, a national rarity presumed extinct in Cornwall since 1962 and rediscovered there in 2010. He was a significant contributor to “Fumitories of Britain and Ireland” (2009), authored by Rosaline Murphy (a previous Marsh Botany Award recipient), and he was one of the main volunteer recorders contributing to “The Flora of Cornwall” (2020) by Colin French. He has written numerous blogs for the Botanical Cornwall Group webpage and he has been co-editor of the Botanical Cornwall Newsletter. 

Ian has been a hugely effective organiser of botanical activities in Cornwall and a great ambassador more widely for Cornish botany. He is always willing to help with enquiries relating to Cornwall and its plants – a great enthusiast, he is generous in sharing his knowledge. One of the committee members wrote “Above all, he is a great enthusiast and a thoroughly likeable man with a great sense of humour. Much of what he has achieved has been in part due to the fact that he’s basically a ‘good bloke’.”  

Clive Stace

Clive’s academic career was based at the University of Leicester, where he held the post of Professor of Plant Taxonomy until he retired in 2003. He is recognised internationally as an outstanding taxonomist. As well as the flora of Britain and Ireland, his research interests were broad from taxonomy of grasses (Brachypodium stacei is named after him) to the tropical family Combretaceae. His textbook Plant Taxonomy and Biosystematics is a classic, written in Clive’s precise and concise style, and a model of clarity.

More than this role as a university teacher and researcher, however, Clive is regarded as one of the UK’s greatest living botanists. He is a past president of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, and he has co-authored and edited some of the most significant books on UK and Irish botany, such as Hybridization and the flora of the British Isles (1975) and its successor Hybrid flora of the British Isles (2015), Vice-county Census Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Great Britain (2003) and Alien Plants (2015).

Clive is probably best known for his monumental New Flora of the British Isles. When the first edition appeared in 1991, “Stace” (as it is known) rapidly became the flora used by all serious amateur and professional botanists. The second edition was published in 1997, and the third, incorporating the third Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification, followed in 2010. He has continued to work on his flora long into retirement, unceasingly covering the huge range of literature and opinions and giving succinct, pragmatic summaries of complex revisions. His fourth edition published in 2019, for which he is specifically nominated for the Marsh Botany Award, will remain the standard flora for Britain for years to come; there is simply nobody else in his league.

Libby Houston

Libby Houston is a poet, botanist and rock climber based in Bristol, where she is a research associate at the University.

Shortly after she moved to Bristol in 1979, Libby started helping Dr Frost at the University with research on the flora of the Avon Gorge, including spiked speedwell and Bristol rock-cress. Importantly, her skill as a rock climber allowed her to study populations nobody else could reach! She still routinely surveys the populations of many rarities, keeps track of how they are doing and advises on management. Nobody will ever know the Gorge and its plants as well as she does.

Much of Libby’s recent work has been related to whitebeams in the Avon Gorge, and she discovered an unusual hybrid whitebeam which Tim Rich named after her. She was a co-author of the 2010 monograph on Sorbus published by the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and has since found another two new whitebeams in the Avon Gorge and new populations of the rarest species.

Her activities have extended to the Wye Valley and Cheddar Gorge where she has discovered three more novelties. Anyone who knows Libby will vouch for her ability to spot something unusual –if she says it is different, the results normally confirm her hunch!

Libby’s contribution has also included the provision of sound advice regarding conservation decisions affecting the rare plants that she has studied. She suggests appropriate habitat management and often supervises the work to ensure that it is done properly. She also leads educational walks and forays for scientists, conservation practitioners and the general public.

Brian Laney

Brian is a very active volunteer who is well known in botanical circles for his reputation for re-finding plants in places where they have been thought to be extinct. His finds have led to a series of blog posts from the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) entitled ‘Brian’s Botanical Finds’. He is a self-taught botanist who has been actively volunteering for over 30 years, particularly with habitat management for numerous rare and scarce plants across Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Dorset, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

Since 2004, Brian has been an active recorder for the Northamptonshire Rare Plant Register and for the third atlas of the British flora. He regularly gives lectures to various gardening and natural history groups and has led field meetings in Northamptonshire and Warwickshire for the Hardy Orchid Society, the BSBI and the Wild Flower Society.

Dr Ken Adams

Ken has been at the heart of botanical activity in Essex since the early 1970s. He enjoyed a long academic career as a principal lecturer and molecular biologist at the University of East London and has been a member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) since 1959, taking over as vice-county recorder in 1973. Ken has educated and inspired countless people to take up the study of botany, bryology and mycology. He has a website which is devoted to Essex botany and holds a large number of resources, including ‘Ken’s Keys’ – a well-illustrated, clear and concise guide to aid the identification of groups of plants.

As well as being a competent mycologist, Ken has also been a British Bryological Society member since 1965, acting as librarian to the society for much of that time and he has also been their vice-county recorder for over 40 years. Ken has worked diligently to document and protect both the plants in Essex and the archives, specimens and resources relating to them in the county. He played a major role in the opening of a purpose-built centre for the Essex Field Club in 2011, allowing greater access to resources and expertise on the county’s biodiversity for the public.

Dr Chris Preston

Chris has been one of the key players in British botany and conservation over several decades and worked at the Biological Records Centre from 1980 to 2015. Among his achievements are several of the most significant papers and books on British and Irish botany in recent years, reflecting his extraordinary expertise in vascular and non-vascular plants and providing an evidence base that underpins much of our understanding of changing flora. These publications will likely continue to be standard reference works for many years to come and his influence will continue long after his recent retirement.

Chris is an outstanding academic AND an expert field botanist and bryologist. He has also mentored many students and botanists generously passing on his knowledge and enthusiasm to all those lucky enough to spend time with him in the field. His observational skills have led to many notable discoveries, such as dwarf spike-rush in Scotland, hundreds of miles from its known range.

Dr Rod Corner and Jeremy Roberts

Dr Rod Corner

Rod has worked as a GP for many years but has maintained his interest and ability in botany from an early age, discovering the Whitlaw Mosses while still a schoolboy, which are now a National Nature Reserve. He worked closely with Derek Ratcliffe to carry out studies in Northern England, Scotland and Greenland and making some excellent finds including many which were new to England. Rod is a leading authority on the flora of Greenland and worked as vice-county recorder for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland in Selkirk and Roxburgh for over 40 years.

Jeremy Roberts

Jeremy has carried out important botany work in Yorkshire, the northern Pennines, Teesdale, the Lake District and the Highlands. He has done a great deal of work for Natural England, including discovering and re-discovering species, and has designed a website for the identification of spike rushes, deer-grass and filmy ferns. Jeremy is a teacher by professions and this has translated into his botanical work both in the field and when he gives talks. He is extremely rigorous and accurate which has led to the completion of detailed surveys. In addition to his knowledge of flowering plants and ferns, he is also a skilled bryologist, a keen ornithologist and co-author of the ‘Bird Atlas of Cumbria.’

Dr Camilla Lambrick

Camilla has a long-standing interest in nature conservation and during her career researched relationships between plants and ants in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere and was joint editor of Ant-Plant Interactions which was published in 1991. She has also taken on a number of voluntary roles including surveying disused railway lines with the view of making them nature reserves, serving on the regional committee of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers and organising the annual recorders and conservation conference for the Wildlife Trust.

Camilla was instrumental in setting up the Rare Plants Group in 1993 which works with Plantlife, Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts to prevent extinction of wild plants in Oxfordshire, and was its Chair for 20 years. Following the rediscovery of fen violet in Oxfordshire in 1997, Camilla led the research and surveys enabling an action plan for its conservation. She also leads the group of volunteers who compile the Oxfordshire Rare Plants Register which includes around three hundred species. Her inspiration, focus and direction have ensured the success of the Rare Plants Group and significantly benefitted rare plants in Oxfordshire.

Margaret Bradshaw

Margaret’s botanical career spans six decades, beginning when she worked on the lady’s-mantles in Teesdale in the 1950s, a group which she has now become an expert in and continues to raise the profile of. In recognition of her involvement with the campaign for the preservation of large areas of sugar limestone during the construction of the Cow Green Reservoir, Margaret was awarded an MBE for her services to conservation in 1977 and in 2010 was made an honorary member of the Botanical Society of the British Isles.

Margaret’s contribution to the understanding of the Teesdale flora has been outstanding and only surpassed by her tireless efforts to ensure it is conserved for generations to come.

Gwyn Ellis

Gwynn has held a number of roles within the Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI), including as Vice-President and Membership Secretary, but perhaps the most important was Editor of BSBI News, a role he took on in 1986. His contribution to botany has largely been ‘behind the scenes’, assisting other botanists to place the fruits of their labour on permanent record. However, Gwynn has been the author of a number of notes and articles in BSBI News and also a number of books including Flowering Plants of Wales (1983) and Aliens in the British Flora (1993).

Rosaline Murphy

Rosaline has made outstanding contribution to the field of botany, particularly in the South West of England. Her love of the natural world started from a young age and alongside her day job, has been a recorder of various plant species across Cornwall, including bryophytes. Rosaline’s eye for detail and efficiency has also led to her taking on the editing of several journals for local natural history and recording groups.

Lynne Farrell

Lynne has been dedicated to botanical conservation in both her professional life and as an amateur, bringing a passionate style, exceptional success and pioneering outcomes at every scale and in every aspect of botany. She is the co-author of the ground-breaking Vascular Plant Red Data Books, first published in 1975, which is an objective assessment to plant conservation prioritisation and remains the standard tool in setting the direction and raising the profile of plants in peril.

Lynne also worked on Natural England’s Site of Specific Interest guidelines to secure botanical diversity and pursued special protection for Britain’s most threatened plants through the Wildlife and Countryside Act. In addition to all this, she has pursued significant scientific endeavours and encouraged more people to be involved with botany by spreading her enthusiasm, passion and expertise.

Nick Stewart

Nick is based in Crediton, Devon and works closely with stonewarts. Most of these are threatened species and Nick has done extensive research and conservation work to ensure that these important plants are preserved.

Nick Legon and Alick Henrici

Nick Legon

Nick was Project Officer for the Database and Checklist of the British Basidiomycota and worked steadily through the herbarium of British fungi at Kew, collating and compiling information for the Project and for Kew’s own Herbtrack database. Nick also undertook research for the Checklist Project, collecting published records of British and Irish fungi and tracking down the nomenclatural problems associated with them. He has continued to work on the completion and maintenance of the Project database in a voluntary capacity.

Alick Henrici

Alick has been a volunteer with the Database and Checklist of the British Basidiomycota since its inception. His notes and personal lists of British taxa were an invaluable contribution to the compilation of the Checklist and his research gave authority to its publication in 2005. Alick continues to compile data on omissions and amendments which will help keep the Project database accurate and up to date. He has also devoted a great deal of time to collecting, recording and collating data on the fungi of the Kew site, helping it become one of the best-known mycological localities.

Alan Showler

Alan has been involved in plant conservation in the Chilterns for over 25 years and has now taken over responsibility of the Windsor Hill Reserve where one of the three existing red helleborine populations is found. Under his leadership, the populations has increased to fifteen plants, making it the largest population in the British Isles. The reserve is an important space for several other rare species, including the large-fruited prickly sedge which is only known on a handful of other sites in England and Wales.

Alan recently stepped down from his role as the voluntary reserve warden, but maintains his active interest in the conservation of the red helleborine at Windsor Hill and he also looks after another reserve at Millfield Wood in the Chilterns.

David Holyoak

David has made an outstanding contribution to the conservation of mosses and liverworts. He is an active field biologist who has spent many years on recording the distribution and status and many of the rarest species. David is a passionate and pragmatic conservation biologist.

David Pearman

David is a dedicated volunteer who has also spent over a decade working full time for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) and has recently taken on the vice county recordership for Devon. In the 1990s, he helped coordinate the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s (JNCC) ‘Scare Plants’ project and worked tirelessly on Atlas 2000 for over six years. David is a past President of BSBI and Vice-President of Plantlife and has played a pivotal role in managing the Threatened Plants database and in numerous other projects funded or otherwise supported by the country conservation agencies.

Lady Rosemary Fitzgerald

Rosemary is an independent botanist and has made an outstanding contribution to the implementation of the UK Action Plans for vascular plants. She has undertaken surveys of the UK’s flora, helping to set the conservation agenda for decades. Rosemary was also the greatest collector for the MSB UK programme, making 104 collections which included several threatened aquatics such as Ranunculus tripartitus.

Dr Phil Wilson

Phil is a consultant ecologist and botanist with Wessex Environmental Associate and gained his PhD at the University of Southampton in 1990 for his research promoted by the Game Conservancy Trust on wild plants associated with arable land. In 1997, Phil presented an Arable Project Proposal to Plantlife and shortly afterwards became the organisations Back from the Brink project officer for arable plants. In 1999, he initiated and organised a national conference on the conservation of arable plants and has also undertaken work for English Nature, the Game Conservancy Trust, FRCA/MAFF and the Wildlife Trusts.