Description: Oxydendrum arboreum leaves

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Internships at the University of North Carolina Herbarium


2013 Charles T. Mohr Intern



Derick Poindexter
Photograph by Brian Nalley, 2012



Though born in the foothills, I was raised in the mountains of North Carolina and there developed a precocious interest in nature and biology.I began working in landscaping at the age of 14 to support myself, as my mother was a single parent with three children.These beginnings in landscaping taught me work ethic and allowed me to spend ample time in my first home Ė the outdoors.


I graduated from Alleghany High School, Sparta, North Carolina, then served as a college ambassador at Surry Community College, where I received an A.A. and A.S. degree within two years. The remaining two years of education were at Berea College, Berea, KY.In 2004, I graduated from Berea College (B.A. in Biology) with my first two scientific publications near completion and in press.I spent 2.5 years at Appalachian State University, where I conducted a floristic survey of Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, Ashe County, North Carolina.This work further elucidated plant species diversity in the Amphibolite Mountains Macrosite (a nationally significant ecological area) in northwest portion of our State. I continued working as a Research Botanist and Project Manager for a National Science Foundation funded Research Coordination Network (SERNEC).


I have given walks (including regular participation in the Great Smoky Mountain Wildflower Pilgrimage) and seminars over the past 10 years promoting species diversity in the southern Appalachian Mountains.In addition to rare plant monitoring, invasive species detection, and floristic studies (from small areas to entire counties in the eastern United States), I have been active in new species descriptions, taxonomic treatments in various works (Flora of North America, Flora of Virginia, and Flora of the Southern & Mid-Atlantic States) and discoveries.


My interest in plant taxonomy has led me into many projects, many of which are still ongoing.In short, Iím dedicated to plant biogeography, conservation, and systematics and I plan to continue pursuing these areas throughout my career. Personally, I am husband and father of two boys (ages 8 and 1).Iím quite lucky in this respect. Through my own love of nature and academic pursuits, I try to instill in them an appreciation of life (particularly plants) and the natural world around them.


At the University of North Carolina Herbarium, Iím currently involved in several projects that are directly facilitated by the Mohr Internship.The most important of these is a morphology-based reassessment of the genus Marshallia which is in the Aster Family.†† Of particular interest in this genus is one species that honors Dr. Charles T. Mohr, Marshaliia mohrii Beadle & F.E. Boynt.This plant, colloquially known as ďMohrís Barbaraís Buttons,Ē was described from a specimen collected by Dr. Mohr in Cullman County, Alabama.This species name was chosen not only to commemorate the collector, but also to acknowledge his work as of one of Alabamaís first botanists.


At present, Marshallia mohrii is considered Federally Threatened and at risk of extinction.It is only known from a handful of sites primarily in Alabama, and with a few records from adjacent counties in Georgia.



Marshallia mohrii has an extra set of chromosomes (i.e., is polyploid) and consequently somewhat variable.I am assessing this variability to see if any geographic patterns exist that may require a finer circumscription of this already rare taxon.Additionally, Dr. Alan Weakley and I have examined variation in the other species of the genus, with one recently described new species (Marshallia legrandii Weakley), two that appear to need elevation from varieties to species, and an additional new species restricted to the Interior Highlands of Arkansas and Missouri.


Ultimately, this merely scratches the surface of my interests and pursuits that will be facilitated by this internship.I must express my deepest gratitude to the donors. With my family obligations in mind, this internship will provide me the much needed freedom to pursue pressing taxonomic questions. Your endowment, coupled with the unrivaled breadth specimens available at UNC, is enabling me and other researchers to understand plant diversity of the southeastern United States.


Marshallia mohrii grown from seed
Photograph courtesy of Bill McAvoy


Description: Curriculum in Ecology†††††††††††††††† Description: North Carolina Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††Description: Biology Department
Curriculum†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† North Carolina†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† UNC

††In Ecology†††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††††† Biology Department

University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated: 26 July 2013