Lisa Marie Giencke

(b. 1982)

Lisa Giencke worked in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) from 2002 – 2007 in several capacities including work-study student and staff member. She deposited about 400 specimens (most from Battle Park in Orange County, NC), and annotated many existing specimens in our fern collection. Ms. Giencke’s greatest legacy to the Herbarium was her expertise in computer technology: she piloted the conversion of our data to the SPECIFY database and authored the Herbarium’s original website.

Ms. Giencke was born in Kandiyohi County, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Biology in 2003. She was the winner of the Francis J. LeClair Award, given annually to an outstanding graduating senior for academic excellence in biology with an emphasis in plant sciences.

Ms. Giencke was the first Mary McKee Felton Herbarium Intern. Her project for the Internship involved the fern and fern allies. Major taxonomic changes have affected the naming and arranging of southeastern United States ferns and fern allies at the familial, generic, and specific levels, with numerous new species named in recent years and many name changes reflecting new understanding of higher level relationships. For instance, there is now general consensus that the genus Lycopodium (the clubmosses) in eastern North America actually represents at least three, and probably more like seven to nine genera, as reflected in the Flora of North America volume published in 1993. The nine herbarium cases of specimens of ferns and fern allies at the Herbarium had not kept up with the times, and specimens of some species were filed under two or even three different names. Giencke worked with Herbarium Director Dr. Alan Weakley to correctly identify, annotate, and rearrange the specimens according to more modern treatments. (1)

In 2004 Ms. Giencke continued to work in the Herbarium on the Flora of Virginia Projectthen in 2005 shifted her primary focus to the flora of Battle Park. On July 1, 2004, at the request of James Moeser, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the North Carolina Botanical Garden assumed responsibility for Battle Park, a wonderful wooded tract on the east side of campus and downhill from the Coker Arboretum. The tract includes one of the most awe-inspiring legacies of the University, which, furthermore, symbolizes the important connection between nature and art: the stone amphitheater known as Forest Theater. Although not a pristine forest, much of the 93-acre Battle Park consists of forest that predates European settlement in the area (1740). The park is named for Kemp Plummer Battle, president of UNC-CH from 1876 to 1891, who laid out the original trail system and spent many happy and contemplative hours within the forest. (2)

Giencke began the botanical inventory of Battle Park by scouring the Herbarium for any specimens collected in the Park, then entering these specimens into the herbarium’s database. Together with Dr. David Vandermast (Elon University) and Dr. Peter White (North Carolina Botanical Garden), additional specimens were collected in the Park, and a complete checklist of the plants was compiled. Copies of their report on the history and flora of Battle Park have been deposited at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, as well as in the Couch Biology Library and the North Carolina Collection of Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

In 2007 Giencke moved to southern California to participate in the ecological restoration of San Clemente Island. San Clemente Island, the southernmost of the eight California Channel Islands. It lies 55 nautical miles (nm) south of Long Beach and 68 nm west of San Diego. The island is approximately 21 nm long and is 4-1/2 nm across at its widest point. Since 1934, the island has been owned and operated by various naval commands. A core component of the effort to restore the native habitat of the island is to clear exotic vegetation and to plant native shrub species. To aid in the effort, the Navy has established a native plant nursery where shrubs are grown and then transplanted to sites on the Island that lack native shrub cover and have low habitat diversity. (3, 4)

In 2010 Giencke completed a Masters degree in Environmental & Forest Biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She studied the spread of beech bark disease in a 2 ha plot at the Huntington Wildlife Forest near Newcomb, NY. Her thesis is titled “Spatiotemporal dynamics of an Adirondack forest.”

In 2011 Ms. Giencke became the Plant Ecology Lead Technician at the W. Jones Ecology Research Center at Ichauway.  In 2020 Ms. Giencke returned to her herbarium roots and spearheaded getting the Jones Center at Ichauway Herbarium (ICHAUWAY) included in, a searchable online database of herbarium specimens.



Giencke, L. M., R. C. Denhof, L. K. Kirkman, D. J. Gustafson, O. S. Stuber, and S. T. Brantley.  In press.  Restoration Ecology.  Seed sourcing for longleaf pine ground cover restoration:  I.  Using plant performance to assess seed transfer zones and home-site advantage.

Kirkman, L. K. and L. M. Giencke .  2017.  Restoring and managing a diverse fire-maintained ground cover.  IN L. K. Kirkman and S. B. Jack, editors.  Ecological Restoration of Longleaf Pine Forests.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.

Kirkman, L. K., L. M. Giencke, R. S. Taylor, L. R. Boring, C. L. Staudhammer and R. J. Mitchell (2016 )  Productivity and species richness in longleaf pine woodlands:  resource-disturbance influences across an edaphic gradient.  Ecology 97:  2259-2271.  DOI:  10.1002/ecy.1456

Giencke, L. M., M. Dovciak, G. Mountrakis, J. A. Cale and M. J. Mitchell (2014)  Beech bark disease:  Spatial patterns of thicket formation and disease spread in an aftermath forest in the northeastern United States.  Can. J. For. Res.  44:  1042-1050.  DOI:  10.1139/cjfr-2014-0038



1. Weakley, Alan S. (2003) Lisa Giencke hired as first Mary McKee Felton Herbarium Intern. North Carolina Botanical Garden Newsletter, issue of September-October, 2003.
2. Cotterman, Laura (2006) Battle Park,, accessed on 14 May 2006.
3. Anonymous (undated),, accessed on 14 May 2006.
4. Anonymous (undated),\HabitatRestorationFactSheet_FINAL.pdf, accessed on 14 May 2006.