Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Homer Doliver House
(21 July 1878 – 21 December1949)

Information compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, January, 2011. 
Special thanks to Mary O’Brien, Reference Archivist at Syracuse University,
to Jen Bingham, Data Management Archivist
at Clemson University Special Collections for information
on H.D. House’s brief association with Clemson Agricultural College,
and to Charles Sheviak, Curator, New York State Museum Herbarium,
for information on House’s long association with the State Museum of New York.

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has catalogued about 20 specimens collected by H.D. House.  Most are pteridophytes from New York or South Carolina collected between 1923 and 1939. 

The Harvard Herbarium database of botanists lists that the herbaria holding House’s specimens include NYS (New York State Museum in Albany), NY (New York Botanical Garden (Bronx), and US (Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.). (2)

Homer Doliver House was born in Kenwood, New York, on 21 July 1878.  In the Alumni Record and General Catalog of Syracuse University, 1872-1899 (Syracuse, New York, May 1899), House is listed as being from Oneida, NY and matriculating in the liberal arts.  The 1924 Syracuse University Alumni Directory lists him as a 1902 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts.  (1)

House earned an A.M. degree from Columbia University in 1903.   On December 5, 1904, he married Erma M. Hotaling of Jamesville, New York.  He held a series of short posts (Assistant in Botany, Columbia University 1903-1904; U.S. National Museum, 1904-1905; U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1905-1906) before departing for a faculty position in South Carolina.  (1)

Homer D. House was Associate Professor of Botany and Bacteriology at Clemson College in January, 1906.  The Catalogue of the Clemson Agricultural College of South Carolina, 1905-1906 also mentions that House served on the Museum Committee.  While there, he wrote “Observations upon Pogonia (Isotria) verticillata” which was published in Rhodora.  The Minutes of the Board of Trustees, July 10, 1906 notes “Mr. H.D. House was re-elected to the chair of Botany and Bacteriology.”  House’s career at Clemson, however was short.  The Minutes of the Board of Trustees, July 9, 1907 notes, “The President then presented a petition from the Agricultural Students of the graduating class that Prof. House was inefficient in his work and requested in the interest of coming classes that he be removed.  Dr. Mell [Clemson College President] reported that he had talked with Prof. House and told him he was compelled to bring the matter before the Board; he also read letters from various members of the rising senior class endorsing Prof. House and also a letter from Prof. House … (July 12, 1907 Resignation of Mr. House to take effect June 1, 1908 was handed to the President).”  A month later, the Minutes of the Board of Trustees, August 21, 1907 report, “The Special Committee appointed to investigate certain charges against Prof. House reported that they had had the Professor before them; and, finding the charges true, had told him after his frankness, etc. that if he would voluntarily resign that no record would be made of the charges against him; that Prof. House’s resignation had been tendered to take effect Jan. 1, 1908, or at such time as the Board might designate; and that the committee had endorsed thereon; ‘to take effect Sept. 1, 1907.” (3)

In 1907, House renamed the genus Shortia to Sherwoodia (see full text at end of this page).  However, House’s nomenclature has not been adopted by later botanists.

From 1907-1908 he worked at the New York Botanical Garden, then served as Professor of Botany & Dendrology and Associate Director of the Biltmore Forest School in Biltmore, North Carolina.  (1)  Exactly how long he was in North Carolina is unclear; by 1908 he had earned his doctorate from Columbia University with his thesis, “North American species in the genus Ipomoea.”

In 1913 Homer House joined the New York State Museum (NYS) in Albany as Assistant State Botanist, assisting State Botanist Charles Peck (1833-1917) who had suffered an incapacitating stroke.  House succeeded Peck and served as State Botanist until 1948.  “We don’t have a figure for the number of [House’s] collections deposited here,” says NYS Curator Charles Sheviak.  “Judging from the numbers in his field books, [House collected] approximately 27,800.  Some were evidently sent out in exchanges or otherwise dispersed, but presumably most of these are still here.  A rough figure might be 27,000.” (4)

“As sometimes happens, recognition nearly came late.  However, the Botany Seminar, an informal group that has been meeting in the New York Capitol district for two years [in 1950], prepared a memorial parchment scroll.  At length a representative list of signatures was collected.  Dr. R. A. Dobbins, Albany Pharmacy College, and Paul C. Lemon, representing the Seminar, waited upon Dr. House in his office [at the New York State Museum] and presented the scroll December 19, 1949.  Two days later Dr. House was suddenly stricken while walking across his lawn.  He is survived by Mrs. Erma House, who shared his interest in flowers and birds.” (5)



House, Homer Doliver (1904 ) A new Violet from New England.  Rhodora 6:  226-227, pl. 59.

House, Homer Doliver (1906) The Violets and Violet hybrids of the District of Columbia and vicinity.  Rhodora 8:  117-122, pls. 71, 72.

House, H. D. (1906)  Observations upon Pogonia (Isotria) Verticillata.  Rhodora 8:  19-20.

House, Homer Doliver (1907)  The genus Shortia.  Torreya 7(12):  233-235.

House, Homer D.  (1908)  Woody plants of western North Carolina.  Biltmore Forest School, Biltmore, North Carolina.

House, Homer Doliver (1908)  The North American species of the genus Ipomoea.  Annals of the New York Academy of Science 18 (6):  181-263.


House, Homer D.  (1915)  Certain features of German forestry.  The University of the State of New York, Albany, NY.


House, Homer D. (1918)  Wildflowers of New York, Part 1.  State Museum Memoir 15, The University of the State of New York, Albany, NY.


House, Homer D. (1918)  Wildflowers of New York, Part 2.  State Museum Memoir 15, The University of the State of New York, Albany, NY.

House, Homer D.  (1924)  Annotated list of the ferns and flowering plants of New York State. New York State Museum Bulletin 254, Albany NY.  759 pp.


House, Homer D. (1927)  Flora of the Allegany State Park Region.  New York State Museum Handbook 2, Albany, NY.  225 pp.

House, Homer Doliver (1935)  Dwarf Mistletoe on White Pine.  Rhodora 37:  368.

House, Homer D. and Robert B. Gordon (1940) Additions and corrections to the flora   of the Allegany State Park Region, Cattaraugus County, New York.  Albany:  University of the State of New York.

House, Homer D. (1941)  Bibliography of the botany of New York State, 1751-1940.  New York State Museum Bulletin 328, Albany, NY.  174 pp.


House, Homer Doliver (1907)  The genus Shortia.  Torreya 7(12):  233-235.


            The story of the elusive Shortia galacifolia of the southern Appalachian mountains is one of the most interesting chapters in American botanical history.  The plant was discovered by Michaux more than a hundred years ago, but in fruit only, and remained unknown to other botanists until detected by Asa Gray in the Michaux herbarium in Paris in 1839.  Upon his return to America Dr. Gray made a journey through the mountains of North Carolina, but did not succeed in rediscovering the plant, in spite of which, however, he described and named it after Dr. Short, in 1842.  It was not until 1879 that it was rediscovered, and in the meantime not a few botanists had searched for it in vain.  The rediscovery was made by M. E. Hyams, in McDowell County, North Carolina, but this station was soon exterminated.  In 1886, Professor C. S. Sargent and Mr. F. E. Boynton discovered a new station for the plant on the headwaters of the Keowee River, and in the spring of 1887 Mr. T. G. Harbison after a careful exploration of the region, found it in great abundance in several localities in the Jocassee Valley and especially along the Whitewater and Toxaway creeks in South Carolina.  In spite of its abundance in localities, its distribution is extremely limited, and its ornamental value, which has made it one of the important plants of American horticulture, might easily lead to its extermination.  As the plant is now common in nurseries and can be obtained cheaply, it is probably not in immediate danger. 

            The name of the plant, fittingly commemorative of the name and botanical work of Dr. Short, unfortunately cannot be maintained, as there exists a previously named genus Shortia, published by Rafinesque, in an obscure publication, Autikon Botanicon, of 1840.  Rafinesque bases his genus Shortia upon Arabis dentata.

            Mr. W. L. Sherwood, of New York, has about 12,000 plants of Shortia galacifolia growing upon his place at Highlands, North Carolina, where Mr. Harbison is Horticulturist.  Mr. Sherwoods’ unique and valuable library of botanical works has been of considerable help to the writer upon many occasions, and in renaming the genus it seems fitting to dedicate it to him.  In addition to the present species, there exist three other members of the genus in China and Japan. 


Sherwoodia nom. nov.

Shortia Torr. & Gray, in Am. Journ. Sci. I. 42:  48.  1842. – II. 45: 402.  1868.  Proc. Am. Acad. 8:  246.  Syn. Fl. N. Am. 2:  53.  1878.  Not Shortia Raf. Autikon Botanikon 16.  1840.


Sherwoodia galacifolia (Torr. & Gray) nom. nov.

Shortia galacifolia Torr. & Gray, in Am. Journ. Sci. I. 42:  48.  1842.  The story of this species is given by C.S. Sargent, together with an illustration, in Garden & Forest for December, 1888; by Geo. Vasey in the First Report of the Secretary of Agriculture, 387, pl. II.  1889; and by Alice Lounsberry in Southern Wild Flowers and Trees.  1901.


Sherwoodia uniflora (Maxim.) nom. nov.

Schizocodon uniflorus Maxim.  Bull. Acad. Petersb. 12:  71.  1868.  Shortia uniflora Maxim. 1. c. 16:  225.  1871.  W. Wats. In Bot. Mag. Pl. 8I66.  1907.  Native of Japan.  Duplicate types, collected by Maximowicz in prov. Senano and Nambu, Nippon, are in the Columbia University Herbarium. 


Sherwoodia rotundifolia (Maxim.) nom. nov.

Shizocodon rotundifolius Maxim. 1. c. 22: 487.  1888.  Shortia rotundifolia Makino, in Tokyo Bot. Mag. 9:  103.  1895.  Yayeyama Islands, Japan.


Sherwoodia sinensis (Hemsley) nom. nov.

Shortia sinensis Hemsley, in Hook. Ic. Pl. pl. 2624.  1899.  Menytze, Yunnan, China, Henry 11490.  Duplicate type in the herbarium of the New York Botanical Garden.



1.      Mary O’Brien, Reference Archivist, Syracuse University, personal communication, citing Alumni Record & General Catalog of Syracuse University (1910) and Syracuse University Alumni Directory (1925).

2.  accessed on 30 December 2010

3.      Jen Bingham, Data Management Archivist, Clemson University Special Collections, personal communication, 2011.

4.      Charles Sheviak, Curator, New York State Museum Herbarium, Albany, NY, personal communication.

5.      Lemon, Paul C. 1950.  Homer Doliver House, 1878 to 1949.  Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 77(4):  307-308.





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Last Updated: 6 November 2014