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Lytton John Musselman

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Lytton John Musselman and lab

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This is a collection of images from our work on parasitic plants, longleaf pine, the genus Isoetes, Middle East flora, plants of the Bible and Qur'an, and the strangest plant in the world (Hydnora species).

Southern Province, Rwanda. Dec 01, 2019, S 2° 13' 20.92" E 30° 13' 20.93". Examining Striga asiatica parasitizing Sorghum vulgare with Innocentus Sibomata.
Enchanted Rock, Llano County, Texas W Carl “Cap’n” Taylor, Lytton Musselman, Jason Singhurst, Peter Schafran. Enchanted Rock, Llano County, Texas.
Historic turpentine stump,  Blackwater Ecologic Preserve David McCollum, Leah Gibela-Smith, Peter Schafran, Nalini Nadkarni, Jem Baldismo, Nicholas Flanders, Dan Barshis, Destiny Waag. Historic turpentine stump, Blackwater Ecologic Preserve 8 February 2019.
 Blackwater Ecologic Preserve Theresa Augustin, Leah Gibela-Smith, Nalini Nadkarni, Jem Baldismo, Lytton Musselman, Peter Schafran, David McCollum, Nicholas Flanders, Destiny Waag. Blackwater Ecologic Preserve 8 February 2019.
Collecting Striga in Burkina Faso Collecting Striga in Burkina Faso.  This was so long ago the country was then known as Haute Volta and I had black hair! The majority of my research efforts over the past three decades has been with parasitic angiosperms, particularly those which cause damage in the African Sahel and the Middle East
The population of Isoetes olympica near Suweida, Syria. I have been monitoring this population for several years. Our research during the past fifteen years has shown that this genus of grass-like plants, little changed since the days of coal swamps, has remarkable diversity in the Middle Atlantic States.
My plant taxonomy class from the American University of Beirut at the Ehden Cedar Preserve on Mount Lebanon. Cedars are evident in the background as are patches of snow in this March photo.
I have a collaborative program with colleagues at the University of Peridenya in Sri Lanka. One of the areas of interest in that botanically diverse island is the Knuckles Preserve, shown here.  It is an area of granite outcrops and seeps and home to at least one endemic amphibian.
Dr Mustafa Pala and I examining an infestation of Cuscuta (probably C. palestina) in a lentil test plant at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) research farm at Tel Hadya, Syria. I have worked on an ICARDA sponsored project for the past several years. May 2005.
Examining a shrubby species of Euphorbia near Fish River Canyon, Namibia. This shrub, which dominates the landscape, is the host of Hydnora africana one of the strangest plants in the world.  It spends its entire life underground, dependent upon this shrub for its existence, then breaks through the rock soil and flowers.  My colleague at the University of Namibia collaborates with my lab in this work. Click here
The distinguished botanist/physician/Arabist George Edward Post (right), 1838-1909. One of the founders of the Syrian Protestant College, which became the American University of Beruit, Post published the first comprehensive flora of the Middle East. I have just completed a biography of his life and am editing his letters.  Post also wrote extensively on plants of the Bible

 Entrance to Mor Gabriel Monastery near Midyat, Turkey.  This is arguably the oldest monastery in continual use in the world.  One of my interests is in the cultic use of plants by ancient Christian groups.  May 2006.


Professor Gebisa Ejeta from Purdue University is on the right, holding Alectra vogelii, a serious parasite of cowpeas.  I have the same in my hand. On the lower left is Striga hermonthica, the most serious parasitic weed in Africa which causes severa damage to sorghum (as here) but also other grains. This field trip was part of a Striga workshop held in Ethiopia. 10 November 2006. Professor Gebisa is the 2009 winner of the World Food Prize which has been called "the Nobel Prize for agriculture" for his work on developing Striga resistant sorghum strains.

I am holding the pistillate inflorescences of Populus euphratica with the Euphrates River in the background.  Eastern Syria at the city of Deir Ezzor. March 2007. This tree is likely the "Willow of Babylon" mentioned in the Bible. Click here.






En route to 4 000m to find the elusive nard, Nardostachys jatamsi. The well equipped, poised trekker in blue is Dr Luke Cutherell whose mountaineering experience proved invaluable.  5 July 2008 near Dunche, Nepal.


Botanizing in Iraqi Kurdistan where I was accompanied by an armed guard on each trip.  The flowers I am holding and those in the soldiers lapel are Narcissus tazetta, a highly valued wildflower in Kurdish culture.  Its flowering coincides with the festival of Newroz, the celebration of the spring solstice.  20 March 2009 above the Dokan River.

On the west coast of the Greek island of Chios with an especially vigororous Onopordum sp. We were on the island to study Pistacia lentiscus var.chia which only grows here and is the source of mastic, a plant gum used since ancient times.  15 June 2009.


With students from the University of Brunei Darussalam in an orchard of Nephelium  spp. (Sapotaceae) known as rambutan in Malay. Near Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei. October 2009.


A group of botanists on Mount Assos in Sulimaniya Province near the Iranian border. We were collecting specimens in the beautiful sub-alpine part of this mountain (1800 m) and were met by a farmer who plyed us with homemade sheep buttermilk and homemade sheep butter along with the ubiquitous sweet, hot, tea. 30 June 2010

My Field Ethnobotany class from the University of Virginia Mountain Lake Biological Station on a field trip at Dismal Falls in the Jefferson National Forest in June 2012. A highlight of this course was a four course meal prepared from native plants.

My Botany and the Environment course at the University of Iraq-Sulimaini, May 2012. The course was team-taught with Peter Schafran, an ODU graduate student.

My Adirondack Flora course at Copper Rock Falls near Cranberry Lake, New York. This course is taught at the State University of New York Environmental Sciences and Forestry (ESF)field station at Cranberry Lake Biological Station. I teach the first half and professor Donald Leopold of ESF teaches the second week.

The high point of the class where we studied the unique alpine flora.

Being interviewed by Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion show on the MS Ryndam August 2012. I was part of the educational team on A Prairie Home Companion cruise.

The 2013 Adirondack Flora course from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) field station at Cranberry Lake in the Adirondack Mountains. This picture was taken on the summit of Whiteface Mountain, one of the tallest peaks in New York. Note all the jackets even though it is August! The course is team taught with Professor Donald Leopold of ESF (not shown) and Peter Schafran shown in the middle of the last row.

With Professor Donald Leopold (see above) in the Bonaparte Fen, a large Nature Conservancy property that includes some of the rarest plants in New York state. The purple pitcher plant, Sarracenia purpurea, is evident between us. Fens are interesting wetlands that have a distinct water chemistry.


Interview with Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion cruise August 2013 aboard the MS Ryndam in the Mediterranean. The other members of the education team for the cruise are on the stage with me.

I was invited to the Islamic Perspectives on Ecosystem Management in Doha, Qatar to give a presentation on Environmental Ethics in the Bible. This was part of a meeting on the Qur'anic Garden which I addressed in 2009. Significantly, my talk was on Earth Day 2014.

Libby and me with Ambassador Daniel Shields at the U S Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei 9 June 2014. The ambassador and his staff are very supportive of the Fulbright program.

Working with graduate students Roshanizah Hj Rosli, left, and Le Qang Vuong in the greenhouse at the University of Brunei Darussalam in June 2014. We are examining the growth of Cuscuta australis on Mikania micrantha.


World Vegetable Center, Arusha, Tanzania. This is the group from the ECHO conference visiting to see some of the crops that ECHO is working with. 10 August 2018.