Dr. Jianhua Li

T. Elliot Weier Professor of Biology, Department Chair
Profile photo of Dr. Jianhua Li

Dr. Jianhua Li joined the Hope biology faculty in 2009 after working as a senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University for 10 years. He is currently on the executive committee of MiCOB (the Michigan Consortium of Botanists) and the editorial board of the Journal of Systematics and Evolution.

Dr. Li works on plant systematics of various plant groups that are distributed mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, with a focus on those that show a disjunct distribution between the Old and New Worlds. The courses he teaches include:


Dr. Li is interested in understanding the taxonomy, phylogenetic relationships, classification, biogeography and evolution of important traits of various plant groups. He has used data from morphology, anatomy, chemistry and molecular biology to study plant groups such as conifers, maples, birches, lilacs and privets, and witch-hazels.


  • Postdoctorate, plant systematics, Harvard University, 1998
  • Ph.D., plant biology, University of New Hampshire, 1997
  • M.S., plant biology, Huazhong Normal University, 1987
  • B.S., biology, Henan Normal University, 1984


  • Member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Botanist Consortium of Botanists, 2004–present
  • Associate Editor of the Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 2007–present
  • Sargent Fellow of the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, 2015
  • Michigan Space Grant (PI), 2013, 2019
  • Michigan Botanical Foundation grant (PI), 2010, 2011, 2019
  • Hanes Foundation grant (PI), 2010
  • International Lilac Society Research grant (PI), 2008–2010; 2017
  • NSF: Tree of Life of Gymnosperms grant (co-PI), 2006–2010

Selected Publications

See full citations and additional publications in Digital Commons.

  • “Repeated Intercontinental Migrations and Recurring Hybridizations Characterise the Evolutionary History of Yew (Taxus ),” with Moller et al., Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 153, 2020
  • “Maple Phylogeny and Biogeography Inferred from Phylogenomic Data,” with Stukel et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution 57, 2019
  • Allopatric Speciation in Asia Contributed to the Diversity Anomaly between Eastern Asia and Eastern North America: Evidence from Anchored Phylogenomics of Stewartia (Theaceae),” with P. Del Tredici et al., International Journal of Plant Science 180 (7), 2019
  • “Differential Diversifications of South American and Eastern Asian disjunct genera Bocconia and Macleaya (Papaveraceae),” with Murray et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution 56, 2018
  • “Evolutionary History of the Angiosperm Flora of China,” with Lu et al., Nature 554, 2018
  • “The Tree of Life: China Project,” with Z. Chen et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54 (4), 2016
  • “Tree of Life for the Genera of Chinese Vascular Plants,” with Z. Chen et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution 54 (4), 2016
  • “Global versus Chinese Perspectives on the Phylogeny of the N-fixing Clade,” with H. Li et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 2016
  • “Phylogenetics and Biogeography of Apios (Fabaceae) Inferred from Nuclear and Plastid Genes,” with J. Jiang et al., International Journal of Plant Science 175, 2014
  • “Molecular Systematics and Biogeography of Wisteria Inferred from Nucleotide Sequences of Nuclear and Plastid Genes,” with J. Jiang, C. Fu and S. Tang, Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 2014
  • “Diversification of the Phaseoloid Legumes: Effects of Climate Change, Range Expansion and Habit Shift,” with H. Li et al., Frontiers in Plant Science 4, 2013
  • “Phylogenetics and Biogeography of Theaceae Based on Sequences of Plastid Genes,” with M. Li et al., Journal of Systematics and Evolution 51, 2013
  • “Development of Microsatellite Markers for the Dove Tree, Davidia involucrata (Nyssaceae), a Rare Endemic from China,” with Y. Du et al., American Journal of Botany e206-e209, 2012
  • “Generic Limits of Pyrinae: Insights from Ribosomal DNA Sequences,” with Q. Li et al., Botanical Studies 53, 2012

Outside the College

Outside work, Jianhua enjoys nature walks, sports (basketball and ping pong), and reading novels and popular science books.

Profile photo of Dr. Jianhua Li
Dr. Jianhua Li

Phone Number616.395.7460

A. Paul Schaap Science Center Room 3017 35 East 12th Street Holland, MI 49423-3605
A map showing the location for Dr. Jianhua Li A. Paul Schaap Science Center Room 3017 35 East 12th Street Holland MI 49423-3605