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Kathy Mathews, Ph.D.

Kathy Mathews

Professor Mathews collects plants by many means of transportation

Cullowhee Falls

A field trip to Cullowhee (High) Falls to study local plants and geology during the 2018 Cullowhee Native Plants Conference

Department of Biology
Associate Professor, Plant Systematics
Director, WCU Herbarium

Phone: 828-227-3659
Office Address: Stillwell 220A


I specialize in flowering plant systematics, which seeks to explain patterns of diversity among the flowering plants. I mainly study problems in the taxonomy, biogeography, and evolutionary relationships of southeastern and southern Appalachian plant groups. Recent work with collaborators includes the phylogenetic systematics of Sabatia (swamp pink) and Bartonia (screwstem), both of the gentian family, Spigelia (Indian pink) of the Loganiaceae, as well as population genetics of Actaea racemosa (black cohosh) and rivercane (Arundinaria gigantea). My graduate students are studying/have studied the systematics of bush honeysuckle (Diervilla) and Southern Appalachian saxifrages (Micranthes), hybridization in the Trillium erectum complex, and growth characteristics of rivercane ( Arundinaria gigantea). Our research tools include field work, herbarium studies, molecular phylogenetics of DNA sequences, and DNA fragment analysis.

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