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Bristol botanist awarded prestigious medal for her contribution to natural history

Libby Houston

Libby Houston

Press release issued: 24 May 2012

A Bristol botanist is to be awarded the prestigious H. H. Bloomer medal by the Linnean Society for her contribution to natural history today [24 May 2012].

A Bristol botanist is to be awarded the prestigious H. H. Bloomer medal by the Linnean Society for her contribution to natural history today [24 May 2012].

The award will be given to Libby Houston in recognition to her exceptional contribution to knowledge of the Avon Gorge and to knowledge of the whitebeams (Sorbus) in Britain.

This outstanding achievement results from many years of study.  Shortly after she moved to Bristol in 1979 she began to help Dr Lewis Frost in the former Department of Botany at the University of Bristol with research on the Avon Gorge flora.  Early studies looked at Avon Gorge rarities such as Spiked speedwell and Bristol Rock-cress.  Her rock climbing ability allowed her to study populations nobody else could reach. 

Much of her recent work has been on endemic Avon Gorge Whitebeams (Sorbus) in collaboration with Simon Hiscock, Professor of Botany in the University’s School of Biological Sciences, and Dr Tim Rich of National Museum of Wales. This research culminated in her discovery of the unusual S. bristoliensis x aria hybrid which is named after her – S. x houstoniae.  Her work also extended to the Wye Valley and especially Cheddar where her keen eye picked out three more new whitebeam species. 

Professor Simon Hiscock said: “I am delighted Libby has been given this award. I have been working with Libby for nearly ten years and her expert knowledge of the Avon Gorge, particularly its Sorbus trees, has been critical to our research.”

The Linnean Society is one of the premier scientific societies in the world, whose mission is the cultivation of the science of natural history in all its branches. 

The H. H. Bloomer medal by the Linnean Society is made once a year to an outstanding amateur biologist.