hero image
Mark Brand, Ph.D. - University of Connecticut. Storrs, CT, US

Mark Brand, Ph.D.

Professor of Horticulture and Plant Breeding, Nursery Extension Specialist | University of Connecticut


Professor Brand is a horticulturist who focuses on ornamental plant breeding, sustainable cultivars, and industrial hemp.


Mark Brand is a professor of horticulture and plant breeding and a nursery extension specialist with UConn's Collect of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. His areas of interest include woody landscape plants and nursery crops, ornamental plant breeding, and Aaroniaberry fruit production.

His lab's breeding efforts are focused on development of new ornamental plants that are sustainable in the landscape and provide solutions to landscape issues such as invasiveness, support of pollinators, desire for compact plants, and superior performance under stressful conditions.

Over the last two decades the Brand lab has produced 33 new plant introductions, 27 licensed plants, 33 royalty generating cultivars, 16 plant patents, and 3 registered trademarks. Plants have been licensed by prominent national branding programs including Proven Winners, Better Homes & Gardens/Walmart, Ball Horticulture, Monrovia, First Editions, American Beauties and SynRG. Significant plant material contributions have been made with sterile Japanese barberries, dwarf butterfly bushes, chokeberries (Aronia), cold hardy rhododendrons, and sand cherries.

The Brand lab has also introduced the NativeStar® series of improved native shrubs. Breeding approaches include ploidy manipulation, mutation breeding and interspecific and intergeneric hybridization to create new plants.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Woody Landscape Plants

Nursery Crops

Ornamental Plant Breeding

Aroniaberry Fruit Production

Plant Breeding


Education (3)

The Ohio State University: Ph.D., Ornamental Horticulture

The Ohio State University: M.S., Ornamental Horticulture

Cornell University: B.S., Ornamental Horticulture

Affiliations (1)

  • Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering

Accomplishments (5)

Fellow, IPPS Eastern Region


Leslie J. Mehrhoff Award


National Academy of Inventors


Mehlquist Award, Connecticut Horticultural Society


University of Connecticut Agriculture and Natural Resources Excellence in Research Award







Mark Brand, professor of plant science and landscape architecture, with Aaonia berries growing at the Plant Science Research Farm on Aug. 9, 2012. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo) loading image Mark Brand of the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture takes students around the Storrs campus as part of the class Woody Plants: Common Trees, Shrubs and Vines (SPSS 3410). Sept. 14, 2021 (Dalton Scott / UConn Photo) loading image Mark Brand, professor of horticulture, stands with a descendent of the the beloved loading image


UConn Establishes NativeStar® Trademark for Novel Plants


Media Appearances (4)

Climate change might make poison ivy worse this year

WFSB  online


According to Mark Brand, a professor of horticulture and plat breeding at UConn, climate change is causing an abundance of poison ivy. “Some of the research shows that the higher the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it benefits all plants because plants use carbon dioxide to build sugars through photosynthesis. But poison ivy, at least the research shows, it is particularly adaptive at taking advantage of the higher carbon dioxide levels,” said Brand.

view more

Climate change could be leading to more poison ivy in Connecticut

NBC Connecticut  online


That distinct trio of shinny green leaves is distinct and a health nuisance that could be finding more suitable growing conditions. According to UConn Professor Mark Brand, a possible change in climate could be helping it spread. One reason is higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. “Plants use [carbon dioxide] to build sugars through photosynthesis,” Brand said.

view more

UConn professor works on production of upcoming Hallmark movie

The Daily Campus  online


Julie Sherman Wolfe, the movie’s screenwriter, sought the help of UConn Plant Science and Landscape Architecture professor Dr. Mark H. Brand for his knowledge on evergreen Christmas trees and their growing process. [....] “She wanted to know information about what plant problems were plausible to have arise [sic] for a Christmas tree grower in Connecticut. Also, what possible solutions would work to fix the problem in the timeline that the story would allow,” Brand said.

view more

University of Connecticut researchers announce NativeStar plants

Nursery Management  online


The University of Connecticut, in collaboration with researchers in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources (CAHNR), have established a trademark for improved cultivars of novel, native plant species. Professor of plant breeding and horticulture Mark Brand and associate professor of horticulture Jessica Lubell-Brand have been developing new cultivars for years, making more attractive and manageable plants for landscaping in Connecticut and areas with similar climates. These plants will be marketed under the NativeStar trademark.

view more

Articles (5)

Renewal Pruning Alone or in Combination with Thinning Pruning Affects Growth, Fruit Yield and Fruit Quality of Aroniaberry


2023 Aroniaberry ( Aronia mitschurinii ) produces small pome fruits that possess health promoting compounds. Management practices for orchards are lacking, since aroniaberry is a relatively new crop. Pruning is an important cultural practice to optimize fruit yield in orchards. The response of an established aroniaberry orchard to pruning was evaluated over three years (2020 to 2022). Pruning treatments were as follows: 1) renewal pruning (removal of shoots to the base) only in year 1; 2) renewal pruning in year 1 + thinning to 18 shoots in year 2; 3) renewal pruning in year 1 + thinning to 9 shoots in year 2; and 4) no-pruning (control). In response to renewal pruning, plants grew uniformly and vigorously, producing 28 new vegetative primary shoots with an average length of 66 cm by the end of the first growing season.

view more

Chilling Requirements to Relieve Bud Dormancy in Black-fruited Aronia Taxonomic Groups Is Related to Ploidy and Geographic Origin


2023 The genus Aronia Medik., also known as chokeberry, is a group of deciduous shrubs in the Rosaceae family, subtribe Malinae. The two commonly accepted black-fruited Aronia species are black chokeberry [ Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott] and aroniaberry [ Aronia mitschurinii (A.K. Skvortsov & Maitul)]. The geographic range of wild A. melanocarpa is the Great Lakes region and the northeastern United States, with a southerly extension into the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. Wild A. melanocarpa found in New England are diploids, whereas plants throughout the rest of the range are tetraploids. A. mitschurinii is a cultivated hybrid between × Sorbaronia fallax (C.K.Schneid.) C.K.Schneid. and A. melanocarpa and exists as a tetraploid. There is currently limited diversity of Aronia genotypes in the ornamental and fruit industries, and many of the current cultivars are not adapted to the southern United States and similar environs with limited chilling to break winter dormancy.

view more

Gene Dosage at the Autoflowering Locus Effects Flowering Timing and Plant Height in Triploid Cannabis

Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

2023 There is demand for early-flowering cannabis ( Cannabis sativa ) cultivars to hasten harvest and avoid late-season detrimental weather conditions. A field study and greenhouse studies were conducted to evaluate the effect of gene dosage at the autoflowering locus on flowering timing for diploid and triploid hybrids between autoflowering and photoperiod-sensitive parents. Autoflowering × photoperiod-sensitive hybrids were all photoperiod sensitive, but their critical photoperiods were longer than for homozygous photoperiod-sensitive plants, which resulted in earlier flowering. For triploid genotypes, decreasing dosage of the photoperiod-sensitive allele (A), from AAA to AAa to Aaa, reduced the time to flowering. Flowering timing for the diploid genotype Aa was intermediate between Aaa and AAa. These results provide evidence of incomplete dominance of the A allele at the autoflowering locus.

view more

Ex Vitro Rooting of Cannabis sativa Microcuttings and Their Performance Compared to Retip and Stem Cuttings


2022 There is demand for micropropagated Cannabis sativa liner plants, because they are uniform, vigorous, and pathogen free; however, availability is limited because of challenges with in vitro culture decline and ex vitro rooting. Ex vitro rooting success of microcuttings was evaluated for ‘Abacus’ and ‘Wife’ when cultures were 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 weeks old from initiation. Microcuttings of ‘Wife’ harvested from 6, 9, and 12-week-old cultures rooted at or above 80%, but rooting declined to 50% and 30% for 15- and 18-week-old cultures, respectively. Rooting for ‘Abacus’ remained relatively constant between 47% and 70% for microcuttings harvested from 6- to 18-week-old cultures. ‘Wife’ plants grown from microcuttings, stem cuttings, and retip cuttings (cuttings taken from new shoots on recently micropropagated plants) had equivalent total shoot length, number of shoots, and flower dry weight, whereas micropropagated ‘Abacus’ plants had less shoot length and flower dry weight than plants from stem cuttings.

view more

Four Sterile or Near-sterile Cultivars of Japanese Barberry in Three Foliage Colors


2022 Berberis thunbergii L. (Japanese barberry) holds significant market share in the commercial ornamental horticulture industry. Japanese barberry is grown by production nurseries and used in landscaping across the northern half of the United States. In 2009, the barberry crop was worth nearly $30.5 million in annual sales in the United States, making it one of the top two ornamental shrubs, roses excluded. [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 2009]. Dirr (2009) lists close to 70 cultivars of B. thunbergii or B. thunbergii hybrids, and new cultivars continue to be introduced at a rapid rate. Hardiness, ease of culture, resistance to deer browse, compact habit, and general attractiveness have made Japanese barberry one of the most popular landscape shrubs in the United States (Steffey, 1985). Japanese barberry cultivars offer ornamental interest in all four seasons, featuring yellow flowers in spring; attractive red, yellow, green, or variegated foliage in summer; leaves that turn orange, yellow, and red in fall; and bright red berries that persist through the winter (Steffey, 1985). I

view more