Nature lovers at NOVA can now easily identify Virginia plants, thanks to Marion Lobstein, longtime biology professor at NOVA’s Manassas Campus. Lobstein donated copies of the long-awaited ‘Flora of Virginia’ to each of NOVA’s six libraries in honor of her friend and colleague Nicky Staunton.
“Nicky and I are founding members of the Virginia Native Plant Society,” Lobstein said. “Nicky served two terms as president of the Virginia Native Plant Society and represented the society on the first board of directors of the Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project. In 2011, the society’s chapters pledged to honor Nicky’s service by donating copies of the flora to colleges and universities. Nicky has played an important role in the appreciation and conservation of native plants, and I am delighted to donate a copy of the book to each NOVA campus in her name.”
Lobstein earned her first master’s degree at UNC-Chapel Hill where she studied with Dr. Ritchie Bell using his Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. When she moved to Virginia in 1974, she was shocked to learn that the most current identification manual for the state’s plants was developed more than two centuries ago. To teach her classes, Lobstein was forced to use identification sources from other states.
Following her dream to have a modern flora manual for Virginia, she persuaded Chris Ludwig, chief biologist for the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, to lead the efforts to develop the publication. In 2001, they helped establish the Foundation of the Flora of Virginia Project. With the support of such organizations as the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Botanical Associates, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Virginia Academy of Science and the Virginia Native Plant Society, the Flora of Virginia was published in 2012.
The ‘Flora of Virginia’ is a richly detailed guide to more than 3,200 plant species with comprehensive descriptions of each plant, including classification and habitat, according to the Flora of Virginia Project website. The book includes information on the rich history of botanical exploration in Virginia and the great diversity of habitats in Virginia, which contain more species of plants for its landmass than any other state.
In February, Lobstein and Ludwig discussed the publication during a segment on Virginia Currents, the longest-running locally produced TV program on PBS in Virginia.
“Developing this historic work has been a longtime dream,” Lobstein said. “The first printing sold out in less than a year, proving the need for this publication. The second printing will be available in December and I hope many botanists, educators, gardeners and plant enthusiasts will benefit from the fruits of our labor.”
Lobstein taught biology at NOVA from 1974 until her retirement in 2010. In 2003, she was named a Fellow of the Virginia Academy of Science, an honor reserved for members who demonstrate outstanding scientific research, inspirational teaching, and/or significant leadership in the Academy.