The Jill Smythies Award

A medal and £1,000 to a botanical artist for outstanding, diagnostically relevant, published illustrations

Established in 1986 by the late Mr B E Smythies FLS, in honour of his wife, the late Florence Mary Smythies ("Jill"), whose career as a botanical artist was cut short by an accident to her right hand. Awarded to a botanical artist in recognition of excellence in published illustrations in aid of plant identification, with the emphasis on botanical accuracy and the accurate portrayal of diagnostic characteristics.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Open to any botanical artist of any nationality or age
  • For their outstanding botanical art that is 'an accurate portrayal of diagnostic characteristics and an aid to identification'
  • [At least some] drawings and/or paintings must be published
  • Digital work is eligible
  • Subject matter may include algae, fungi or plants but illustrations of cultivars of garden origin are not eligible
  • Work should include two or more items of the same taxonomic group for comparison
  • Flower paintings that are merely artistic, and which do not portray diagnostic features will not be assessed
  • Nominee cannot, at the time of nomination, be a member of Council
  • Nominee does not need to be a Fellow of the Society
  • We do not accept self-nominations

Nominations should be submitted by completing the downloadable form and sending to by 30 November

  • Alice Tangerini (2020)
  • Deborah Lambkin (2019)
  • Niki Simpson and Juliet Williamson (2018)
  • Karin Douthit and David Williamson (2017)
  • Anita Barley (2016)
  • Claire Banks (2015)
  • Esmee Somers Winkel (2014)
  • not awarded (2013)
  • not awarded (2012)
  • Margaret Tebbs (2011)
  • Susan Sex (2010)
  • Halina Bednarek-Ochyra (2009)
  • Patricia Eckel (2008)
  • Jan van Os (2007)
  • Bobbi Angell (2006)
  • Lesley Elkan (2005)
  • Lucy Theres Smith (2004)
  • Maya Koistinen (2003)
  • Jenny Brasier (2002)
  • Juan Luis Castillo (2001)
  • Bo Mossberg and Jean Annette Paton (2000)
  • Pandora Sellars (1999)
  • Rodella Anne Purves (1998)
  • Celia Elizabeth Rosser (1997)
  • Bent Jonsen (1996)
  • Rosemary Wise (1995)
  • Joy Claire Allison Dalby (1994)
  • Caroline Mary Bates (1993)
  • John Mark Fothergill (1992)
  • Dale Edna Evans (1991)
  • Gillian Condy (1990)
  • Christabel King (1989)
  • Ann Farrer (1988)
Alice Tangerini - Jill Smythies Award 2020

Alice Tangerini, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Jill Smythies Award 2020

For the excellence of her depictions of plants for scientific use, including the detailed portrayal of their diagnostic characteristics, Alice Tangerini is our 2020 winner of the Jill Smythies Award. In addition to illustrating new species, Alice has illustrated multiple taxa from the same group for the same publication, such that the details of the drawings can be used to distinguish the species.

Since 1972, Alice has made diagnostic illustrations for over 1,000 plant species in pen and ink, graphite, and more recently in digital media, for a variety of publications. Using mainly herbarium specimens as her resource material, she has prepared these illustrations to portray the species in a realistic manner with necessary reconstruction to remove the artefacts of drying and physical damage. Significant taxonomic characters have been enlarged with the aid of a microscope to facilitate their use in species descriptions.

Over the years, the detail and accuracy of her drawings and examinations of the specimens have resulted in authors changing descriptions, based on details observed by Alice that had escaped the botanists’ notice. For instance, her detailed examination of a proposed new species of bromeliad resulted in the production of a newly written, enhanced description. As a result, the authors, Lyman B. Smith and Harold Robinson, decided to name the new species Navia aliciae in her honour. Such collaboration with scientists in describing a taxon is the hallmark of exemplary botanical illustration.

Deborah Lambkin, Medal winner 2019
Deborah Lambkin, Medal winner 2019
Niki Simpson, Medal winner 2018
Niki Simpson, Medal winner 2018
Juliet Williamson, Medal winner 2018
Juliet Williamson, Medal winner 2018