Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
The following information was compiled by Carol Ann McCormick,
Curator, University of North Carolina Herbarium.

Elizabeth Fortson Wells

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has approximately 140 herbarium specimens collected by Dr. Elizabeth Fortson Wells. As our collection continues to be databased, more of her specimens will be catalogued.

Most specimens in NCUís collection date from the 1970ís when she was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The vouchers for her Masters Thesis, ď
A Vascular Flora of the Uwharrie Wildlife Management Area, Montgomery County, North CarolinaĒ (1970) are deposited at NCU.

Dr. Fortson Wells is currently an Associate Professor of Botany at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., USA.

Elizabeth Fortson Wells
photo from George Washington University website


B.A. Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia
M.A. in Botany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1970 (Specimens deposited at NCU)
Ph.D. in Botany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1977

Research Interests: Native and naturalized alien vascular plants in eastern North America, biology of harperella (Ptilimnium nodosum), endangered plant species and habitats in Mid-Atlantic States, floristics of Mid-Atlantic States, plant community ecology in undisturbed and disturbed landscapes, vegetation analysis in the Central Appalachians, wetland vascular plant ecology, early floristics records in eighteenth century Virginia, systematics of Heuchera (Saxifragaceae).

My research focuses on monitoring native and alien vascular plant species and their communities in selected sites in the Mid-Atlantic States, especially Virginia and Maryland. In my newest endeavor, I am studying an endangered species, Harperella (Ptilimnium nodosum) in the carrot family, in the Potomac River drainage of western Maryland and adjacent West Virginia. I am monitoring the known populations, analyzing their habitat, and studying the reproduction of these plants. My goal is to restore habitat and reintroduce Harperella plants to new sites within its historical range in western Maryland.

In addition, I am working on several floristic projects in the Washington area. One is a vegetation study of about 5000 acres of forests and wetlands at Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia. The second is a study of the flood plain and upland communities on Plummers Island in the Potomac River gorge of Montgomery County, Maryland. The third is a study of the artificial wetlands of the Dulles Greenway created in 1995 and 1996. In these studies, I am monitoring native and alien species for presence and analyzing plant communities to determine the relative importance of native and alien plant species. These studies will compile information needed by the scientific community, which aspires to a better understanding of how vegetation varies with respect to local conditions, and the conservation and natural resource management community, which requires information on the abundance, conditions, and threats to conservation of natural ecosystems.

I am also involved in a collaborative project with Dr. Richard Tollo of the GWU Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences in field research concerned with understanding relationships between geological and botanical processes in natural environments within the central Appalachian Mountains. We are presently engaged in research projects concerned with investigating the following field-based topics: (1) the nature of remnant herbaceous plant communities developed at high altitudes in the central Appalachians, and (2) the sequence of plant succession developed in areas affected by recent, catastrophic slope failures associated with landslides in the Virginia Blue Ridge. The high altitude project involves herbaceous plants that were formerly widespread during cooler Pleistocene climates and that remain today in the Mid-Atlantic States only at high elevations. The landslide project involves detailed documentation of the sequence of plant colonization in areas affected by recent debris slides and is particularly concerned with investigating the effects of alien plant species and mode of dispersal in reforestation of the denuded environments resulting from the landslides.

Selected Publications
Wells, E. F., and R.L. Brown. 2000. An annotated checklist of the vascular plants in the forest at historic Mount Vernon: a legacy from the past. Castanea 65 (4): 242-257.

Wells, E. F. and R.L. Brown. 2000. Naturalized alien plant species at Mount Vernon, Virginia. Huntia 11(1): 31-53.

Turner, C.L., E.J. Bedker, and E.F. Wells. 1999. Invasive exotic vegetation management plan, Fort Belvoir. Prepared for U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Belvoir, Directorate of Installation Support, Environmental and Natural Resource Division. Published by Paciulli, Simmons, and Associates. 36 pp. with appendices.

Wells, E.F. 1999. Biogeographical links between Appalachian and western species of the genus Heuchera (Saxifragaceae). Pp. 59-71 in Proceedings of the Appalachian Biogeography Symposium, Ralph Eckerlin, editor. Martinsville, Virginia, Virginia Museum of Natural History.

Shipes, B.G., and E. F. Wells. 1996. Heuchera micrantha var. macropetala (Saxifragaceae), a new variety. Rhodora 98: 365-368.

Wells, Elizabeth Fortson.1984.The taxonomy of Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae) section Boraphila subsection Integrifoliae in western North America / A revision of the genus Heuchera (Saxifragaceae) in eastern North America.Systematic Botany Monographs vol. 3:45-121.

Wells, Elizabeth Fortson.1979.Interspecific hybridization in eastern North American Heuchera (Saxifragaceae).Systematic Botany 4(4):319-338.

Wells, Elizabeth Fortson. 1977. A taxonomic study of the genus Heuchera in eastern North America. Ph.D. Thesis, Botany Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Wells, Elizabeth Fortson.1974.A vascular flora of the Uwharrie Wildlife Management Area Montgomery County, North Carolina.Castanea 39(1):39-57.

Wells, Elizabeth Fortson. 1970. A vascular flora of the Uwharrie Wildlife Management Area, Montgomery County, North Carolina. M.A. Thesis, Botany Department, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.


†† Curriculum in Ecology†††††††††††††††††North Carolina Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††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 2 December 2011