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Marion Lobstein donates Flora of Virginia to NOVA

Culmination of four-decade dream

Nature lovers at Northern Virginia Community College can now easily identify Virginia plants, thanks to Marion Lobstein, former 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 plant 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 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 more than two centuries old. To teach her classes, Lobstein was forced to use identification sources from other states.

Following her dream to have a modern flora 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 contains more species of plants for its landmass than any other state.

“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.”

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.