Mary Ann Feist

Herbarium Curator
B169 Birge Hall
(608) 890-1427
Alternate Phone
(608) 262-2792


Academic Background

Ph.D. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

M.S.  University of Cincinnati

B.A. The College of Wooster


My research focus is the systematics of the carrot family, Apiaceae.  I study the taxonomy and phylogeny, as well as the evolutionary processes, of this group.  My earlier research focused on several genera that occurred primarily in the Southeastern United States, Ptilimnium, Oxypolis, Tiedemannia, and Harperella. I am currently studying a larger group of Apiaceae from the Western United States and Mexico that includes Lomatium, Cymopterus, Tauschia, and about 13 other genera.  I am a contribritor to the Flora of North America project and have written the treatments for seven genera of Apiaceae.  

I am presently working to revise and update the Flora of Wisconsin website ( and to provide current distribution maps, species description pages, and specimens records for the approximately 2700 plant species known to occur in Wisconsin.

Since 2013, I have been a part of a research team examining the population genetics, seed ecology, demographics, and reproductive biology of three rare carnivorous plants in the genus Pinguicula (P. ionanthaP. lutea, and P. planifolia) in the Florida Panhandle.  These are among the most comprehensive studies of  the biology and ecology of  these species.

This summer (2015) I will be involved in a project to conduct vegetation surveys of areas within the Brule River watershed in Northwest Wisconsin that were surveyed in the 1940s by John Thompson and the1960s by Donald Davidson.  We will access the current condition of the watershed and analyze changes that have occurred over time.

Funded Herbarium Projects

National Science FoundationAdvancing Digitization of Biological Collections. 2015. Digitization TCN: Collaborative research: The Microfungi Collections Consortium: A networked approach to digitizing the small fungi with large impacts on the function and health of ecosystems. 

National Science Foundation. 2015. CSBR: Natural History: Critical upgrades, expansion, consolidation, and reorginization of the Wisconsin State Herbarium (WIS). 

National Science Foundation, Advancing Digitization of Biological Collections. 2012. Digitization TCN: Collaborative research: Plants, herbivores, and parasitoids: A model system for the study of tri-trophic associations.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Global Plant Initiative. 2011. Digitizing fungal and bryophyte types from around the world: data sharing, and capacity building at the herbaria of the University of Illinois and partner herbaria. 

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Global Plant Initiative. 2010.  Digitizing plant types of Latin America and other areas: data sharing, and capacity building at the herbaria of the University of Illinois.

Select Publications

Plant Systematics and Taxonomy:

Spalik K., Ł. Banasiak, M.A. Feist, and S.R. Downie.  2014.  Recurrent short-distance dispersal explains wide distributions of hydrophytic umbellifers (Apiaceae, tribe Oenantheae).  Journal of Biogeography 41: 1559-1571.

Feist M.A., S.R. Downie, A. Magee, and R. Liu. 2012. Revised generic delimitations for Oxypolis and Ptilimnium (Apiaceae tribe Oenantheae) based on comparative fruit anatomy and phylogenetic analysis of nuclear rDNA ITS and cpDNA trnQ and 5’trnK sequence data. Taxon 61: 402-418.

Feist M.A. 2010. The reinstatement of Ptilimnium texense (Apiaceae) and a new key to the genus. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 4: 641-651.

Feist, M.A. 2009. Clarifications concerning the nomenclature and taxonomy of Oxypolis ternata (Nutt.) A. Heller. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 3: 661-666.

Population Genetics and Conservation Biology:

Molano-Flores, B., J.A. Koontz, and M.A. Feist. 2007. Genetic diversity of the threatened species Agalinis auriculata (Orobanchaceae) and two congeners using RAPD and allozyme markers. American Midland Naturalist 158: 279-291.

Molano-Flores, B., M.A. Feist, and J.A. Koontz. 2007. Seed germination of the Illinois-threatened Agalinis auriculata (Michx.) Blake (Orobanchaceae). Castanea 72: 116-118.

Vegetation Surveys and Floristic Inventories:

Marcum, P.B, L. R. Phillippe, D.T. Busemeyer, WE. McClain, M.A. Feist, and J.E. Ebinger. 2013. Vascular flora of the Sand Ridge State Forest, Mason County, Illinois. Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science 106: 39-46.

Phillippe, L.R., M.A. Feist, D.T. Busemeyer, P.B. Marcum, C.J. Carroll-Cunningham, G.R. Spyreas, and J.E. Ebinger. 2011. Vegetation of sand forest/savanna communities in northeastern Illinois. Southeastern Naturalist 56: 54-60.

Phillippe, L.R., M.A. Feist, R.L. Larimore, D.T. Busemeyer, P.B. Marcum, C.J. Carroll-Cunningham, J.L. Ellis, and J.E. Ebinger. 2010. Vegetation of Hooper Branch Nature Preserve, Iroquois County, Illinois. Northeastern Naturalist 17: 261-272.

Feist, M.A., M. Morris, L.R. Phillippe, J.E. Ebinger and W.E. McClain. 2008. Sand prairie communities of Matanzas Nature Preserve, Mason County, Illinois. Castanea 73: 177-187.

Phillippe, L.R., D.T. Busemeyer, P.B. Marcum, M.A. Feist, and J.E. Ebinger. 2008. Prairie and savanna vegetation of Braidwood Dunes and Savanna Nature Preserve, Will County, Illinois. Castanea 73: 1-15.

Feist, M.A., L.R. Phillippe, D.T. Busemeyer, and J.E. Ebinger. 2004. Vegetation survey of Dean Hills Nature Preserve, Fayette County, Illinois. Castanea 69: 52-66.