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Illustrating the New Jersey Pinebarrens


I am a botanical illustrator specializing in the flora and funga of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. 


The Pine Barrens of Southern NJ are known for two unique habitats: Atlantic White Cedar swamps and Pitch-pine forests.


Atlantic-white cedar swamps and fens have been recovering from deforestation since colonial times. Our cedars once rivaled the Redwoods in California, though now the average trees are 1 foot or less in diameter. An explosive deer population in the last century has prevented seedlings from reaching maturity. However, older patches of cedar swamp are marked by tall, creaking trees, loosely rooted in decaying sphagnum moss in shades of bright green, yellows, and reds. The canopy is dark green year-round and the bark is grey-brown, streaked with powdery blue-green lichens. Throughout spring and summer, the swamps and fens are home to delicate flowering plants. A deeper look into the swamp requires some intuition, as attempting to walk (or worse, jump) onto the wrong species of sphagnum could cause you to sink into millennia of peat deposits. 

Pitch-pine habitats can appear to be endless miles of awkwardly sprouting trees, but they are most alive after a significant fire. After a brief interval of looking nearly dead and hopeless, blacked Pitch-pine and scrub oaks re-sprout, moss reemerges on the forest floor, and fire-adapted plants proliferate. The pink flowers of sheep-laurel may bloom twice in one year, Turkeybeard sends up multiple waist-high stalks topped in white clusters of flowers, and blue-violet gentians emerge. Recent studies in the Smokey Mountains suggest that we may also have pyrophilous fungi--fungi that only occurs after a fire. There is still much to be learned about fire ecology, though we know fire is essential to the pinebarrens.


I became interested in conservation while taking a botany course offered by the NJ Conservation Foundation and Pinelands Preservation Alliance. The class offered a unique opportunity to study the flora of NJ with a focus on the lifecycles, morphology, and communities of plants. I had my own study plots with permission to collect and press specimens that I would also use as references for sketches and paintings. I regularly made species lists for all of the plants in various habitats to learn plant communities and practice the scientific names of plants. I also learned to identify rare plants and submit species reports to NJ DEP and the NJ Pinelands Commission. (This data is used to track the presence or absence of threatened and endangered species, although, to date, it does not guarantee that they will be protected.)

Closely observing native plants in their natural habitats meant that my eyes were always open to the smallest details. I quickly became interested in identifying Sphagnum mosses, lichens, and mushrooms. Because I have expanded my interests to include both botany and mycology, I find there is always something new for me to observe.

My study of flora and fungi has been enriched by group hikes with the Philadelphia Botanical Club and forays with the New Jersey Mycological Association. I have been fortunate to meet and study with local botanists, mycologists, bryologists, and lichenologists.

I hope that my art will promote the recognition and conservation of plant and fungi species. The State of New Jersey is home to 2,069 native vascular plants, of which 798 are rare and/or endangered. There are currently little to no protections for our native flora, except for a limited number of species that have federal protections. Fungi, while essential to the overall health of our ecosystem, has no protections. NJMA is a volunteer group that maintains extensive lists of fungi collected in NJ, though the State does not currently use their data. Fungi and lichens can be indicators of quality air and soil health. It is essential that when we consider conservation that we are evaluating both plants and fungi.

Education and Memberships

Professional Science Masters in Environmental Science, Stockton University, 2023

Certificate in Botanical Illustration, New York Botanical Garden, 2023



Philadelphia Botanical Club

NJ Mycological Association

American Society of Botanical Illustrators

Guild of Natural Science Illustrators


Conservation and Education

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