Mark Brand

Professor of Horticulture

Professor of Horticulture
University of Connecticut
1390 Storrs Road – Unit 4163
Agricultural Biotechnology Lab
Storrs, Connecticut 06269-4163
Office Phone: 860-486-2930
Fax: 860-486-0682


Ph.D.    1988, The Ohio State University
M.S.     1985, The Ohio State University
B.S.      1982, Cornell University

Recent Honors and Special Activities

UConn Ag. & Natural Resources Alumni Assoc. Excellence in Teaching Award. (2004).
American Society for Horticultural Science Extension Publication Award (2004).
Chancellors Information Technology Award – University of Connecticut (2001).
American Society for Horticultural Science Extension Materials Award (1997).

Teaching Program

HORT 3410/SAPL 0410: Woody Landscape Plants 

Current Projects

Solutions to Invasive Ornamental Shrubs

Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry) and Euonymus alata (burning bush) are two valuable landscape shrubs that represent millions of dollars annually through the sale of horticulturally useful cultivars. Unfortunately, both species can be invasive. We are evaluating the invasive potential of horticultural cultivars to ascertain if they pose a similar invasive threat to that posed by wild forms of each plant. We are also working to create sterile forms of each species and to determine the origin of invasive populations using genetic fingerprinting technology. We are also working with Buddleja. Our primary goal with this genus is to develop dwarf or compact forms that are sterile and maintain zone 5 cold hardiness.

Development of Horticultural Internet Resources

The World Wide Web has become an excellent educational tool, providing students and the public easy access to information presented in innovative and unique ways. I have created a web application called the “UConn Plant Database” that presents pictures and information about more than 500 trees, shrubs and vines that are grown in U.S.D.A hardiness zone 6 or colder. “Virtual Campus Plant Walks” accompany this collection of plant information, and allow students to review outdoor campus plant walks over the Internet. The “Plant Selector” provides users with a tool to choose plants that meet ornamental characteristics and landscape situations they specify in an internet browser form.

Ornamental Plant Breeding

I have introduced 11 cold hardy rhododendron cultivars that are well adapted to the climate of New England and similar regions. The rhododendron breeding program was started in 1960 by Dr. Gustav Mehlquist with the goal of developing durable, cold-hardy rhododendrons with new flower colors, improved growth habits and disease and insect resistance. Introduced in 1999, the “Raise the Roof” series of rhododendrons were all given basketball-related names to celebrate the women’s and men’s NCAA basketball championships. Although unusual, the names ‘Buzzer Beater’,‘Hoopla’‘Huskymania’‘March Madness’‘Slam Dunk’, and ‘Tip Off’ have been well received and are proving to be popular. Other rhododendron introductions are ‘Carole Ray’‘Connecticut Yankee’‘Firestorm’‘White Peter’, and ‘Wojnar’s Purple’Halesia tetraptera ‘UConn Wedding Bells’ is a multistemmed selection of Carolina silver bell that blooms prolifically, with flowers that open wider than is typical for the genus. Ruby Ribbons switch grass (Panicum virgatum ‘RR1’) is a recent patented and trademarked ornamental grass that I bred. It has blue-green base foliage that turns a deep wine-red color weeks earlier than other red switch grasses. It is being launched for wholesale production by Ball Horticultural Co.

Native Shrub Improvement Program

Shrub species native to the northeastern United States have been overlooked as ornamental landscape plants. There is growing interest in the use of native species as people look to replace invasive exotic species and cultivate landscapes that blend harmoniously with surrounding natural vegetation. My program is currently focused on the genera Aronia (Photinia), Myrica (Morella) and Physocarpus with the objective of evaluating, selecting and breeding superior genotypes for landscape use.

Recent Publications

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. Tackling a thorny issue. American Nurseryman 204(8):30-36.

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.

Brand, M. H. 2005. Switch-hitters. American Nurseryman 201(1):24-27.

Brand, M. H. 2004. Eight great grasses. (cover story) Fine Gardening 100:63-67.

Lehrer, J. M. and M. H. Brand. 2004. Seed production levels and seedling traits of Berberis thunbergii cultivars. Combined Proceedings of the International Plant Propagator’s Society. vol. 53 (in press).

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.

Brand, M. H. 2004. Grasses, rushes and sedges, oh my! Fine Gardening 97: 88-90.

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

United States Plant Patent awarded for “Buddleja Plant names “Summer Skies”, 2012.

United States Trademark awarded for “Ruby Ribbons switchgrass”, 2008.

United States Plant Patent awarded for “Panicum virgatum ‘RR1’”, 2007.

United States Trademark awarded for “Raise the Roof Rhododendrons”, 2003.

Graduate Students

Former Graduate Students/Post-docs

Catherine A. Becker, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 1992. “Dormancy induction factors affecting tissue culture growth and cold hardiness of Malus ‘David’’’.

Virginia M. Keith, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 1992. “The influence of culture age, cytokinin level in culture, and “retipping” on growth and the incidence of variation in micropropagated rhododendrons”.

Yiqin Ruan, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 1995. “Callus induction and shoot organogenesis in Rhododendron, and in vitro response of tissues from rhododendron plants with or without tissue proliferation”.

Eric W. Mercure, Ph.D. Ornamental Horticulture, 1998. “Understanding the basis for in vitro tissue proliferation of Rhododendron ‘Montego’”.

Currently Head of Tissue Culture Propagation and New Crops Development at Paramount Farming Co., Bakersfield, CA.

David J. Colangelo, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 1998. “Effects of irrigation type and controlled release fertilizer on nitrate leaching from container nursery production areas”. Currently a Senior Environmental Scientist for the Kissimmee Division, South Florida Water Management District, West Palm Beach, FL.

Jonathan M. Lehrer, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2002. “An interactive online database for the selection of woody ornamental plants”. Continued as a Ph.D. student, Dept. of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Michael Harvey, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2004. “Considerations for enhancing the nursery container production of Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’”.

Jessica D. Lubell, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2004. “Influence of division size and timing on propagation of Epimedium”. Continued as a Ph.D. student, Dept. of Plant Science, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.

Dale M. Thompson, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2004. “Effects of benzyladenine concentration and application volume on Epimedium x rubrum E. Morren and Helleborus x hybridus L. ‘Royal Heritage’”.

Jonathan M. Lehrer Ph.D. Ornamental Horticulture, 2007. “Horticultural strategies to counter invasive Japanese barberrry (Berberis thunbergii) ”. Currently an Associate Professor, Ornamental Horticulture, Farmingdale State College, New York.

Maria L. Clements, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2007. “In vitro induction of polyploidy, rooting and overcoming the dormancy limitations of Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’”.

Jessica D. Lubell, Ph.D. Ornamental Horticulture, 2008. “Examination of cultivar contribution to Japanese barberrry (Berberis thunbergii) invasive populations using molecular and field studies”. Currently an Assistant Professor, Ornamental Horticulture, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Peter Leonard, M.S. Ornamental Horticulture, 2011. “Aronia mitschurinii:  Solving a Horticultural Enigma”. Currently a Section Grower at CK Greenhouses, Chesire, CT.

William Smith, Ph.D. Ornamental Horticulture, 2011. “Development of dwarf and sterile Buddleja davidii germplasm through haploid induction and mutation breeding”.

Samuel G. Obae, Post-doc, 2010-1013. Worked on projects with Berberis and Aronia. Currently an Assistant Professor of Biology at Stevenson University, Maryland.

Current Graduate Students/Post-docs

Bryan Connolly, Ph.D. candidate. “Collection, description, taxonomic relationship, and utilization of Aronia melanocarpa, A. arbutifolia, and A. x prunifolia germplasm from eastern North America.”

Shelley Durocher, M.S. candidate. “Breeding potential of Berberis thunbergii DC. (Japanese barberry).

Thao Hau, M.S. candidate. “Determining the occurrence of apomictic seed production in Aronia spp.”

Contact Information
Office LocationABL 320D