Mark Brand

Professor of Horticulture and Plant Breeding, Nursery Extension Specialist


  • PhD Ornamental Horticulture, 1988, The Ohio State University
  • MS Ornamental Horticulture, 1985, The Ohio State University
  • BS Ornamental Horticulture, 1982, Cornell University

Areas of Interest

  • Woody landscape plants and nursery crops
  • Ornamental plant breeding
  • Aroniaberry fruit production


  • SPSS 3410/SAPL 410: Woody Plants: Common Trees, Shrubs and Vines
  • SPSS 3640/SAPL 640: Plant Propagation

Research/Extension Projects

Woody Ornamental Breeding Program

Our breeding efforts are focused on development of new ornamental plants that are sustainable in the landscape and provide solutions to landscape issues such as invasiveness, support of pollinators, desire for compact plants, and superior performance under stressful conditions. Over the last two decades the Brand lab has produced 33 new plant introductions, 27 licensed plants, 33 royalty generating cultivars, 16 plant patents, and 3 registered trademarks. Plants have been licensed by prominent national branding programs including Proven Winners, Better Homes & Gardens/Walmart, Ball Horticulture, Monrovia, First Editions, American Beauties and SynRG. Significant plant material contributions have been made with sterile Japanese barberries, dwarf butterfly bushes, chokeberries (Aronia), cold hardy rhododendrons, and sand cherries. The Brand lab has also introduced the NativeStar® series of improved native shrubs. Breeding approaches include ploidy manipulation, mutation breeding and interspecific and intergeneric hybridization to create new plants. Current breeding efforts are focused on Pieris, Clethra, shrub dogwoods, yellow rhododendron, and native shrubs.

Aroniaberry Nutraceutical Fruit Production

Large-fruited aroniaberry (Aronia mitschurinii) is a new fruit crop that produces berries that look similar to blueberries and contain very high levels of antioxidant anthocyanins and polyphenols. The Brand lab has been working to determine the complex ploidy genetics of Aronia, uncover the intergeneric origins of the large-fruited forms, and move forward with breeding to expand the genetic base of this emerging fruit crop. Other Aronia work is focused on crop production looking at grafting, pruning and fertilization.

Industrial Hemp

My industrial hemp research, in collaboration with Jessica Lubell, is focused on optimizing tissue culture micropropagation, development and evaluation of feminized seed for production, and ploidy breeding for the development of new and improved industrial hemp germplasm.

Currently accepting graduate students.

Recent Honors and Awards

Fellow, IPPS Eastern Region (2018)
Leslie J. Mehrhoff Award (2018)
National Academy of Inventors (2017)
Mehlquist Award, Connecticut Horticultural Society (2016)
University of Connecticut Agriculture and Natural Resources Excellence in Research Award (2014)

Publications (since 2000)

Kurtz LE, Brand MH, Lubell-Brand JD. 2023. Gene dosage at the autoflowering locus effects flowering timing and plant height in triploid cannabis. J Amer Soc Hort Sci. 148:83–88.

Kurtz LE, Borbas LN, Brand MH, Lubell-Brand JD. 2022. Ex vitro rooting of Cannabis sativa microcuttings and their performance compared to retip and stem cuttings. HortScience. 57:1576–1579.

Brand MH, Durocher SN. 2022. Four sterile or near-sterile cultivars of Japanese barberry in three foliage colors. HortScience 57(4): 581-587.

Mahoney JD, Wang S, Iorio LA, Wegrzyn JL, Dorris M, Martin D, Bolling BW, Brand MH, Wang H. 2022. De novo assembly of fruit transcriptome identifies AmMYB10 as a key regulator of anthocyanin biosynthesis in Aronia melanocarpa. BMC Plant Biology 2022; 22:143.

King ES, Cho J, Li H, Jiang X, Madler AK, Weishair MK, Glenn S, Brand MH, Xu C, Bolling BW. 2022. Time of harvest affects United States-grown Aronia mitschurinii berry polyphenols, °Brix, and acidity. Journal of Agriculture and Food Research. 2021; 6:100248.

Brand, MH, Obae SG, Mahoney JD, Connolly BA. 2022. Ploidy, genetic diversity and speciation of the genus Aronia. Scientia Horticulturae. 291:

Lubell-Brand JD, Brand MH. 2021 Micropropagation of New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), sand cherry (Prunus pumila) and sweetbells (Eubotrys racemosa). Native Plants Journal. 22:355–363.

Lubell-Brand, JD and Brand MH. 2021. Myrica gale ‘Lowboy’: A compact, low branching male sweet gale plant with excellent heat tolerance. HortScience 56(10):1295-1296.

Brand, MH, Connolly BA. 2021. ‘UCONNPC001’ (Darkstar®) purpleleaf sandcherry. HortScience 56(7):849-850.

Connolly BA, Brand MH 2021. ‘UCONNPP002’ (Jade Parade®) sandcherry. HortScience 56(5): 619-620. COVER PHOTO.

Lubell-Brand JD, Kurtz LE, Brand MH. 2021. An in vitro – ex vitro micropropagation system for hemp. HortTechnology 31(2): 199-207. COVER PHOTO.

Mahoney JD, Brand MH. 2021. Pre- and postzygotic barriers associated with intergeneric hybridization between Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott x Pyrus communis L. and ×Sorbaronia dippelii (Zabel) CK Schneid. x Pyrus communis. HortScience 56(2): 177-184.

Lubell-Brand, JD, Brand, MH. 2020. Comptonia peregrina ‘Blue Sea’: A compact sweet fern with blue-green foliage. HortScience 55: 2045-2046.

Kurtz LE, Brand MH, Lubell-Brand JD. 2020. Production of tetraploid and triploid hemp. HortScience 55(10): 1703-1707.

Kurtz LE, Mahoney JD, Brand MH, Lubell-Brand JD. 2020. Comparing genotypic and phenotypic variation of selfed and outcrossed progeny of hemp. HortScience 55(8): 1206-1209. COVER PHOTO.

Connolly BA, Brand MH. 2020. Korean mountain ash (Sorbus alnifolia, Rosaceae) on Great Blue Hill in Canton, Massachusetts. Rhodora 122(990): 114-115.

Ricker JG, Lubell-Brand JD, Brand MH. 2019. Comparing insect pollinator visitation for six native shrubs and their cultivars. HortScience 54:2086-2090.

Mahoney JD, Hau TM, Connolly BA, Brand MH. 2019. Sexual and apomictic seed reproduction in Aronia species with different ploidy levels. HortScience 54(4):642-646.

Griffith Gardner, JA, Lubell JD, Brand MH. 2019. Propagation of Comptonia peregrina L. from stem cuttings. HortScience. 54:511–513.

Brand, M. H., B. A. Connolly, L. H. Levine, J. T. Richards, S. M. Shine, and L.E. Spencer. 2017. Anthocyanins, total phenolics, ORAC and water content of wild and cultivated dark-fruited Aronia species. Sci. Hort. 224:332-342.

Hoke, O., B. Campbell, M. Brand and T. Hau. 2017. Impact of information on northeastern, U.S. consumer willingness to pay for Aronia berries. HortScience 52(3):395-400.

Obae, S. G., M. H. Brand, B. A. Connolly, R. R. Beasely, and S. L. Lance. 2017. Microsatellite markers for Aronia melanocarpa (black chokeberry) and their transferability to other Aronia species. HortScience 52(1): 20-23.

Connolly, B. A. and M. H. Brand. 2016. Vouchering Photinia villosa (Rosaceae) as a wild plant in Connecticut. Rhodora 118(975):320-321.

Connolly, B. A. and M. H. Brand. 2016. Kousa dogwood Benthamidia japonica (Cornaceae) established as a free-living species in Massachusetts. Rhodora 118(975):322-323.

Duffy, V. B., S. Rawal, J. Park, M. H. Brand, M. Sharafi, B.W. Bolling. 2016. Characterizing and improving the sensory and hedonic responses to polyphenol-rich aronia berry juice. Appetite. 107:116-125.

Bolling, B. W., Taheri, R., Pei, R., Kranz, S., Yo, M., Durocher, S. N., Brand, M. 2015. Harvest date affects aronia juice polyphenols, sugars, and antioxidant activity, but not anthocyanin stability. Food Chemistry. 187:189-196.

Brand, M. H. 2014. Breeding better Aronia plants. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagators Society. v. 63 p. 269-272.

Martin, D. A., R. Taheri, M. H. Brand, A. Draghi II, F. A. Sylvester, and B. W. Bolling. 2014. Anti-inflammatory activity of aronia berry extracts in murine splenocytes. J. Functional Foods. 8C:68-75.

Taheri, R., B.A. Connolly, M.H. Brand, and B.W. Bolling. 2013. Underutilized chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa, Aronia arbutifolia, Aronia prunifolia) accessions are rich sources of anthocyanins, flavonoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, and proanthocyanidins. J. Agric. Food Chem. 61:8581-8588.

Leonard, P.J., M.H. Brand, B.A. Connolly, and S.G. Obae. 2013. Investigation of the origin of Aronia mitschurinii using amplified fragment length polymorphism analysis. HortSci. 48(5):1-5.

Connolly, B.A., G.J. Anderson, and M.H. Brand. 2013. Occurrence and fertility of feral hybrid barberry Berberis ×ottawensis (Berberidaceae) in Connecticut and Massachusetts. Rhodora 115(962):121-132.

Obae, S.G., B.A. Connolly, and M.H. Brand. 2013. Genetic relationship among four Crocanthemum species (Cistaceae) revealed by amplified fragment length polymorphism markers. J. Torrey Bot. Soc. 140(2):170-180.

Obae, S.M., M.H. Brand, and R.C. Kaitany. 2013. Using amplified fragment length polymorphism markers to confirm identity and correct labeling of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) cultivars in the market. HortSci. 48(2):1-8.

Brand, M.H., J.M. Lehrer, and J.D. Lubell. 2012. Fecundity of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii) cultivars and their ability to invade a deciduous woodland. Inv. Plant Sci. Mgmt. 5(4):464-476.

Brand, M.H., J.D. Lubell, and J.M. Lehrer. 2012. Fecundity of winged euonymus cultivars and their ability to invade various natural environments. HortSci. 47(8):1029-1033.

Allen, J.M., S.G. Obae, M.H. Brand, J.A. Silander, K.L. Jones, S.C. Nunziata, and S.L. Lance. 2012. Development and characterization of microsatellite markers for Berberis thunbergii (Berberidaceae). Am. J. Bot. e220-e222.

Smith, W.A. and M.H. Brand. 2012. ‘Summer Skies’ Buddleja davidii. HortSci. 47(1):126-127.

Lubell, J.D. and M.H. Brand. 2011. Germination, growth and survival of Berberis thunbergii DC. (Berberidadceae) and Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea in five natural environments. Biol. Invasions. 13: 135-141.

Lubell, J.D., M.H. Brand, and J.M. Lehrer. 2011. Susceptibility of Eastern Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim.) cultivars to powdery mildew. J. Environ. Hort. 29(3):105-107.

Lubell, J.D. and M.H. Brand. 2011. Propagation medium influences success of sweet fern [Comptonia peregrina (L.) Coult.] rhizome cuttings. Prop. Orn. Plants. 11(1): 47-49.

Brand, M. H. 2011. Tissue proliferation condition in micropropagated ericaceous plants. J. Plant Growth Reg. 63:131-136.

Lehrer, J. M. and M. H. Brand. 2010. Purple-leaved Japanese barberry (var. atropurpurea) genotypes become visually indistinguishable from green-leaved genotypes (Berberis thunbergii DC.) at low light levels. J. Environ. Hort. 28(3):187-189.

Brand, M. H. 2010. Aronia: Native shrubs with untapped potential. Arnoldia 67(3):14-25.

Lubell, J.D., M.H. Brand, J.M. Lehrer, and K.E. Holsinger. 2009. Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism and parentage analysis of a feral barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) population to determine the contribution of an ornamental landscape genotype. HortSci. 44(2):1- 4.

Lehrer, J.M., Brand, M.H., Lubell, J.D. 2008. Induction of tetraploidy in meristematically-active seeds of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea) through exposure to colchicine and oryzalin. Scientia Horticulturae 119:67-71.

Lubell, J. D. and M. H. Brand. 2008. Detecting cultivar influence in invasive populations of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii: Berberidaceae) using AFLP. American J. of Botany 95(6): 1-7.

Lubell, J. D., M. H. Brand and J. M. Lehrer. 2008. AFLP identification of Berberis thunbergii cultivars, inter-specific hybrids, and their parental species. J. Horticultural Science and Biotechnology 83(1): 55-63.

Gagliardi, J. A. and M. H. Brand. 2007. Connecticut nursery and landscape industry preferences for solutions to the sale and use of invasive plants. HortTechnology 17(1):39-45.

Brand, M. H. 2006. Ornamental Plant Transformation. In: Plant Biotechnology in Ornamental Horticulture, J. of Crop Improvement. 17(1/2):27-50 and Brand, M. H. 2006. Ornamental Plant Transformation, p. 27-50. In: Y. Li and Y. Pei (eds.) Plant biotechnology in ornamental horticulture. The Haworth Press, Binghamton, New York.

Lehrer, J. M., M. H. Brand and J. D. Lubell. 2006. Four cultivars of Japanese barberry demonstrate differential reproductive potential under landscape conditions. HortScience 41(3):762-767.

Lehrer, J. M., M. H. Brand and J. D. Lubell. 2006. Seedling populations produced by Colored-leaf genotypes of Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii DC.) contain seedlings with green leaf phenotype. J. Environmental Horticulture 24(3):133-136.

Lubell, J. D. and M. H. Brand. 2005. Division size and timing influence propagation of four species of Epimedium. HortScience 40(5):1444-1447.

Lubell, J. D., D. Thompson and M. H. Brand. 2005. Foliar sprays of benzyladenine increase bud and propagule production in Epimedium x rubrum Morren and Helleborus x hybridus L. Ornamental Plant Propagation 5:19-22.

Harvey, M. P., G. Elliott and M. H. Brand. 2004. Growth response of Hakonechloa macra (Makino) ‘Aureola’ to fertilizer formulation, rate and media pH. HortScience 39:261-266.

Lehrer, J. M. and M. H. Brand. 2003. An interactive online database for the selection of woody ornamental plants. HortTechnology 13:562-568.

Harvey, M. P. and M. H. Brand. 2002. Growth and macronutrient accumulation of Chasmanthium latifolium (Michx.) Yates and Hakonechloa macra Makino ‘Aureola’ in response to temperature. HortScience 37(5):765-767.

Harvey, M. P. and M. H. Brand. 2001. Division size and shade density influence growth and container production of Hakonechloa macra Makino ‘Aureola’. HortScience 37:196-199.

Brand, M. H. and R. L. Leonard. 2001. Consumer product and service preferences related to landscape retailing. HortScience 36:1111-1116.

Knapp, J. E., A. P. Kausch, C. Auer and M. H. Brand. 2001. Transformation of Rhododendron through microprojectile bombardment. Plant Cell Rpts 20:749-754.

Brand, M. H. and G. A. L. Mehlquist. 2001. ‘Buzzer Beater’, ‘Hoopla’, ‘Huskymania’, and ‘Slam Dunk’ rhododendrons. HortScience 36:180-182 and cover.

Colangelo, D. J. and M. H. Brand. 2001. Nitrate leaching beneath a containerized nursery crop receiving trickle or overhead irrigation. J. Envirn. Qual. 30:1564-1574.

Patents and Trademarks

PP17,944 Panicum virgatum ‘RR1’ Ruby Ribbons®
PP22,465 Buddleja davidii ‘Summer Skies’
PP28,409 Buddleja davidii ‘UCONNBD599’ Soda Pop™ Lavender
PP28,408 Buddleja davidii ‘UCONNBD603’ Soda Pop™
PP28,372 Buddleja davidii ‘UCONNBD604’ Soda Pop™ Blue
PP27,471 Buddleja davidii ‘UCONNBD610’ Soda Pop™ Purple
PP30,095 Berberis thunbergii ‘UCONNBTCP4N’ Crimson Cutie
PP30,128 Berberis thunbergii ‘UCONNBTB039’ Mr. Green Genes
PP30,127 Berberis thunbergii ‘UCONNBTB048’ Lemon Glow
PP30,094 Berberis thunbergii ‘UCONNBTB113’ Lemon Cutie
PP28,789 Aronia melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM165’ LowScape® Mound
PP28,831 Aronia melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM166’ LowScape® Hedger
PP31,821 Aronia melanocarpa ‘UCONNAM012’ Ground Hug™
PP29,575 Prunus x cistena ‘UCONNPC001’ Dark Star®
PP33,014 Prunus pumila ‘UCONNPP002’ Jade Parade™
PP32,238 Comptonia peregrina ‘Blue Sea’ NativeStar®

Raise the Roof® – collection of cold hardy large leaf rhododendrons
NativeStar® – collection of improved forms of New England native shrubs

Contact Information
Fax: 860-486-0682
Mailing AddressAgricultural Biotechnology Lab 1390 Storrs Road - Unit 4067 Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4067
Office LocationAgricultural Biotechnology Lab (ABL) 320D
LinkUConn Plant Database