Previously seen on Dr M Goes Wild discussing New England Asteraceae and different types of Moncocot, Molly Marquand was a recent student of Dr M’s on the MSc Plant Diversity at the University of Reading. Here is her botanical story:
I am… Molly Marquand, invasive species management program coordinator in the Catskill Mountain region of New York State. But I’m also a small farmer, a board member of the New York Flora Association, a seed collector for New York City’s Greenbelt Native Plant Center, a flower arranger, and a writer.
I got into botany… immediately. Growing up in Kent I had the run of a large garden and my first memories are of Bee Orchids blooming in the fields, the thicket of Camellias at the bottom of the lawn, and of, course, the Bluebells that blanketed the woodland hillsides come April. After moving to the US my fondness for plants only grew as I discovered how incredibly rich the American flora is – I am particularly enamored now with native American Magnolias and other plants like Paw-Paw (Asimina triloba) that stand as a testament to those dripping, subtropical forests that once grew broadly across the eastern seaboard.
I studied botany… At Reading with Dr.M. I didn’t share his predilection for grasses, lichens and mosses (all the sub-plants if you ask me) but his influence has stuck and I now often find myself bending over a rock or a bench to examine some little speck more often than I’d like.
I have worked with plants… always. My first introduction to plants was through horticulture. After pursuing that for several years I slowly segued into conservation work where I’ve been for the last seven. Working in so many different capacities I often find projects where all the different plant related fields meet- and that is the best!
My research/interest area… The mixing area where man and nature meet is what interests me most. My fascination has always been with the native plants of any region, and considering how they interact with mankind. This includes thinking about historical habitat usage, direct usage of the plant itself, ecological and physiological characteristics that make one plant species more susceptible than another, and how we can tailor our conservation strategies to be more effective, in light of this information.
The biggest challenge for botany today… is a dwindling interest in the subject. Most people think green is green is green. Once people are enlightened to the idea and order of taxonomy, and the guiding light of binomial nomenclature, the waters of botany become a lot less murky. I wish we had an entry level botany class in every secondary school and high school to get people started! Plants are the backbone of every ecosystem and are not to be overlooked!
My favourite plant to eat/use… where to begin? As an english person I have a special love for Elderflowers to make champagne and wild Blackberries for crumble. Here in America we have blueberries galore come July and Blueberry pie is really the taste of the summer. If I ever had any luck finding the native American Paw-Paw or Persimmons in the woods while in fruit I reckon I’d list those too- wild fruit is the best tasting and magical to find! In my flower arrangements (for weddings, etc) I use anything that’s abundant and growing wild. During the summer in the mountains we have plentiful Penstemon and Monarda which I love to use.
My botanical superhero/ine… There are too many heros to count! I’m particularly struck by the super-sized adventures early frontiersmen had across the undeveloped central and western United States. Lewis and Clark, for example, canoed through thousands of miles of uncharted territory, interacting with dozens of different native American tribes, encountering grizzlies, mountain lions, etc, and quietly collected almost 200 plant species new to science.
Social media… www.mollyjmarquand.com
Dr M says: and so what of the equine twist? Well, Molly’s obviously pretty fond of horses isn’t she?!