Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus

Lena Struwe's Home Page

  Lena Struwe
Dr. Lena Struwe

Symbolanthus mathewsii from Ecuador
Ring gentian

photo: Lena Struwe

Potalia resinifera from South America
Potalia gentian
photo: Paul Maas


Tachia guianensis from French Guiana

Tachia gentian

photo: Paul Maas


Bottle gentian, Gentiana autumnalis, from New Jersey

Bottle gentian

photo: John Mitchell


Professor, School of Environmental and Biological Sciences
Director,  Chrysler Herbarium (CHRB)

Dept. of Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources
  & Dept. of Plant Biology

237 Foran Hall, 59 Dudley Road
Cook Campus, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8551, USA 

Phone: (848) 932-6343,  Fax: (732) 932-9411


Research Mission Statement:

I use field and lab-based biological and ethnobotanical scientific research methods to study wild and cultivated plants and their evolution and interactions with humans in natural areas, cities, and our homes and classrooms in order to understand the intersection of biodiversity, education, and human communication in contemporary society, improve botanical accuracy and literacy, and provide enhanced plant diversity knowledge worldwide.

This means (in other words):

I work on the interaction and evolution between plants, humans, and their environment, from ancient times to the world we live in today. I study how the plants of the world interact with humans’ needs and wants, from wild species in the rainforest to dandelions in your lawn and herbal medicines at Stop & Shop. I do my research in wilderness areas as well as in parking lots in cities and home gardens and my goal is to understand why plant species are where they are, how they got there, how they evolved and evolve, where they will go next, and how they can be used by humans. To be able to do that we also need to know what the correct name of a plant is, so that we can identify and talk about it with others and know that we talk about the same species of plant.

Areas of Professional Expertise:

Evolutionary history, biodiversity, and biogeography of angiosperms, especially gentians (Gentianaceae) and relatives in Gentianales; tropical historical biogeography and its relationship to ecological niche evolution; European and American flora and its indigenous and non-native components, focused largely on weeds and urban plants; contemporary ethnobotany (especially medicinal and edible plants, evolution of food, cooking and crops, and opinions and uses of weeds); conservation and education of plant biodiversity on local to global scales.

   CURRICULUM VITAE (link to pdf)

   More on

  Past and current ST
UDENTS and their projects, click here for list


  • Progress in Gentianales systematics:  Molecular phylogeny, morphological evolution and divergence times of a cosmopolitan asterid order
  • Enigmatic Pteleocarpa finds a new home in Gelsemiaceae (Gentianales)
  • Deciphering biogeographic speciation patterns in the New World tropics: biodiversity in the Andes, Lost Worlds, and Amazonian white sand savannas
  • Investigating the space-time-environmental continuum using phylogenies, specimen data, and GIS
  • Comparative ecological analysis of sympatric and allopatric species and clades in the Andes
  • The love and hate of dandelions in contemporary society
  • An interdisciplinary analysis of opinions in media, metaphors and biological facts (with Mary Nucci)
  • Rooting out or rooting for weeds - natural and cultural histories of superevolutionary plants
  • Using weeds in public outreach: eating, drinking, and appreciating weeds at Rutgers Day
  • From Vasculums to iPhones: 150 years of botanical field research technology in a nutshell
  • The Herbarium Army at Rutgers - creating opportunities in research, education, and outreach at a university herbarium
  • Digital Tools for Citizen Engagement - Using iNaturalist for Personal Biodiscovery and Urban Biodiversity Inventories
  • Teaching about biodiversity in the age of digital distraction and opportunity – learning how, when, and what?
  • FoRC: Flora of Rutgers Campus as an educational research project
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly facts about medicinal plants
  • Botanical accuracy and inaccuracy in commercial products – should botanists care?
  • On the importance of being vouchered, identified, classified, and properly documented in botanical bioprospecting


Finding people and more... Rutgers New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus