Dr. Mac H. Alford

Professor and Curator of the Herbarium

Teaching Interests

BSC 103 Biology & Society

BSC 226 General Botany

BSC 226L General Botany Lab

HON 301 Honors Prospectus Writing

BSC 305 Evolution

BSC 430/L 530/L Aquatic and Marsh Plants

BSC 433L Plant Systematics

BSC 533L Plant Systematics  

BSC 497 Senior Practicum

BSC 706/L Principles of Biological Systematics


Research Interests

Plant systematics and floristics are the two major areas of my research. In systematics, my research focuses on the tropical relatives of willows, poplars, and cottonwoods (Salicaceae and Samydaceae), trees and shrubs formerly placed in the heterogeneous family Flacourtiaceae. Delimiting and describing species, working out the nomenclature, and mapping distributions make up the classical aspects of these studies, and inferring relationships using phylogenetic techniques with data obtained from morphology, phytochemistry, anatomy, and DNA sequences make up the modern aspects. Although I study relationships throughout these family (and related families), my descriptive and exploratory research has been focused on neotropical members. Present interests include inferring the evolution of the reduced flowers of willows and reconstructing the biogeographical history of the family.

In floristics, my research focuses on the state of Mississippi and the southeastern coastal plain. Mississippi currently lacks a manual, taxonomic keys, and county-level distribution maps of the known species of plants, and only recently has an electronic checklist of the species become available. Along with databasing the existing collections, I am actively collecting within the state to ensure that a complete checklist is prepared and that distribution maps reflect the actual distributions. I am also actively involved in the Flora Mesoamericana project, which covers plants that occur in southern Mexico to Panama.

Students are welcome in both of these areas of research. Local floras, species complexes in both the southeastern U.S. and the tropics, and classical and modern taxonomic questions are topics ready for pursuit.

I am also curator of the USM Herbarium. The collection presently consists of about 25,000 specimens and is an invaluable resource for the flora of Mississippi. 


Current Graduate Students | Herbarium


Representative Publications

Ghislain, B., E.-A. Nicolini, R. Romain, J. Ruelle, A. Yoshinaga, M. H. Alford, and B. Clair. 2016. Multilayered structure of tension wood cell walls in Salicaceae sensu lato. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 182(2): 744–756.

Urtubeya, E., A. López, M. A. Chemisquy, A. A. Anderberg, C. M. Baeza, N. D. Bayón, L. P. Deble, A. Moreira-Muñoz, G. L. Nesom, M. H. Alford, L. Salomón, and S. E. Freire. 2016. Molecular phylogeny of Gamochaeta (Asteraceae, Gnaphalieae) and allied genera inferred from nuclear and plastid DNA sequences and its taxonomic implications. Plant Systematics and Evolution 302(8): 1047–1066.

McNair, D. M., S. B. Nicholson Singley, and M. H. Alford. 2016. Checklist of the vascular flora of the Gopher Farm sandhill, Wayne County, Mississippi. Castanea 81(2): 138–147.

Alford, M. H., and A. D. Dement. 2015. Irenodendron, a new genus of Samydaceae from South America. Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas 9(2): 331–334. 

Hernández, C. L., A. Ortega-Lara, G. C. Sánchez-Garcés, and M. H. Alford. 2015. Genetic and morphometric evidence for the recognition of several recently synonymized species of trans-Andean Rhamdia (Pisces: Siluriformes: Heptapteridae). Copeia 103(3): 1–17.

Samarakoon, T., S. Y. Wang, and M. H. Alford. 2013. Enhancing PCR amplification of DNA from recalcitrant plant specimens using a trehalose-based additive. Applications in Plant Sciences 1(1): 1200236.  BioOne

Worberg, A., M. H. Alford, D. Quandt, and T. Borsch. 2009. Huerteales sister to Brassicales plus Malvales, and newly circumscribed to include Dipentodon, Gerrardina, Huertea, Perrottetia, and Tapiscia. Taxon 58(2): 468-478, E1. 

Alford, M. H. 2008. Revision of Neosprucea (Salicaceae). Systematic Botany Monographs 85: 1-62. 

Alford, M. H. 2006. Gerrardinaceae: A new family of African flowering plants unresolved among Brassicales, Huerteales, Malvales, and Sapindales. Taxon 55: 959-964.

Alford, M. H. 2006. Nomenclatural innovations in neotropical Salicaceae. Novon 16: 293-298.

Alford, M. H. 2006. A taxonomic revision of the Andean genus Pineda (Salicaceae). Kew Bulletin 61: 205-214. 

Alford, M.H. 2003. Claves para los géneros de Flacourtiaceae de Perú y del Nuevo Mundo. Arnaldoa 10: 19-38.

Alford, M.H. 2001. The vascular flora of Amite County, Mississippi. Sida 19: 645-699.