John B. Nelson
Chief Curator, A. C. Moore Herbarium
Ph.D., 1982, Florida State University
Biosystematics, Floristics, Plant Geography
Plant taxonomy in South Carolina has had a long and well- documented history, and for a number of reasons, is far from over. Questions remain
concerning our knowledge of the roughly 3000 species of vascular plants that originally occurred here. Of these, many have been replaced by "modern"
species that have effectively supplanted the original taxa. Beyond the fascinating issues of plant distribution and geography, various plant groups
have complicated taxonomic relationships remaining to be unraveled.
Dr. Nelson has investigated the relationships of eastern North American representatives of the genus Stachys, a member of the mint family. Within
this group, a number are problematic, forming complicated species groups with overlapping morphologies. Various features of ecological and anatomical
specialization have proven useful in understanding this enigmatic group. Both herbarium studies and field work have been crucial to this
We are also involved in projects concerning landscape history of our area. Involvement in floristic studies on a state-wide basis have elucidated
some of these distributions, and have helped fill in the existing botanical gaps. At the same time, new questions have emerged concerning puzzling
range distributions not before thought to exist. Recently, an enormous population of the federally endangered "rough-leaved loosestrife" (Lysimachia
asperulaefolia) was discovered in a bog at Fort Jackson, near Columbia: this plant, although recorded from South Carolina about 1880, had not been
seen anywhere in the state since then.
Nelson, John B. and J. E. Fairey. 1979. Misapplication of the name S. nuttallii to a new southeastern species. Brittonia 31(4):491-494.
Nelson, John B. 1986. The Natural Communities of South Carolina: Initial Classification and Description. SC Wildlife and Marine Resources
Department. Columbia, SC.
Nelson, John B. "The Vanishing Blackjacks." South Carolina Wildlife Magazine, March-April 1992.
Nelson, John B. 1993. Noteworthy Collections: South Carolina. Castanea 58: 59-63.
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