Becoming a mountain woman

By Amy Weiss

Mar 19 2019

Marie Mooar spent a lot of time in the wilds of western Montana where she collected wetland and aquatic plants from hundreds of locations in every county west of the Continental Divide. That would be less noteworthy if she were a full-time botanist or a Montana resident, but Marie Mooar was a high school biology teacher from Michigan.

In addition to teaching high school and raising four children, Mooar obtained a master’s degree in botany and managed to spend many summers in Montana doing what she loved: roaming the mountains collecting plants. A National Science Foundation fellowship allowed her to work out of the University of Montana Biological Station during the summers of 1959-1964. Sherman Preece, a professor of botany at the University of Montana, hired Mooar to help compile a wetland plant flora for western Montana and she collected wetland plants as part of this project every summer from 1965 to 1970.

Mooar retired from teaching in 1971, moved to Montana, bought a house, and collected plants around the state for the next five years; officially “becoming a mountain woman” (the title of her unpublished memoir). While her manuscript on Montana’s aquatic plants was never published, Marie Mooar made a large contribution to the knowledge of Montana’s flora through her herbarium collections — many of which made their way to the New York Botanical Garden.


Lesica, P. (2017). Marie Mooar (1909-1997). In R. Potter & P. Lesica (Eds.). Montana’s pioneer botanists (pp. 138-140). Missoula, MT: Montana Native Plant Society.