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University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930
email: mccormickATSIGNunc.edu  

Last Updated: 4 January 2010

 

Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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

 
 


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Brother Wolfgang Wolf
(16 January 1872- 22 September 1950)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has, to date, found only a handfull of specimens collected by Brother Wolfgang Wolf. As we continue to database specimens from Alabama, we hope to find more specimens collected by Brother Wolfgang. The UNC Herbarium would appreciate more information about Brother Wolfgang -- a photo would be particularly appreciated.
Please contact Asst. Curator Carol Ann McCormick at 919-962-6931 or via email at mccormick@unc.edu
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The following information on Brother Wolfgang Wolf, O.S. B., was provided to the University of North Carolina Herbarium by Brother Charles Manning, O.S.B. of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, Alabama.
It was written by Drs. Curt M. Peterson and John D. Freeman of Auburn University Botany Department.

This vita is read annually at St. Bernard Abbey on the anniversary of Brother Wolf’s death.

To be read on September 21:

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of BROTHER WOLFGANG WOLF, who went to God in 1950.

The archives do not tell us much about the early years of Brother Wolfgang. We know he was born in Regensburg, Bavaria on January 16, 1872, and that he came to St. Bernard, we do not know how, in 1897. He made his first profession of vows in 1898 and was finally professed in 1901.

At the time of his death, he had established a world-wide reputation as a botanist. An obituary appearing in the Journal of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club says in part: “His first published new species was Talinum mengesii, which was found to take the place of the better-known T. teretifolium in Alabama. Later, in the same magazine, he described Talinum appalachianum, as yet unknown, only from a single locality near the center of the State. About 1930, he began to suspect that there were more species of Erythronium in Alabama than the books had allowed. After studying them for several years, he described two new species in Castanea for February, 1941 (Erythronium harperi and Erythronium rostratum). He also discovered and described two hybrid oaks, which he called Quercus X bernardianis [Quercus X  bernardensis W.Wolf; Q. prinus X stellata]  and Quercus X capesii [Quercus nigra X phellos]. The former was described in Torreya [Torreya
18(8):  161-162

]  in 1918 and the latter in Castanea [Castanea 10(3):  91
] in 1945.

He seems to have known nothing of botany when he came to America, and for a number of years served as tailor for the Abbey. He soon became fascinated by the considerable variety of native plants in the forest around him. He managed to get together enough to identify them, and gradually built up a modest botanical library and herbarium for St. Bernard College. Although Dr. Charles Mohr had made many visits to Cullman in the 1880’s and 90’s, mostly in the summer, and discovered several new plants around there, Brother Wolfgang had one advantage over him in being there all the year round; and before long he began to find plants not adequately described in the books.

Most of his botanizing was done within walking distance of the college, in a sand stone region. He made occasional trips to Warnock Mountain, with rich limestone slopes, in the next county south, and to Baldwin County in extreme southern Alabama. On all these trips he collected quite a number of plants that have been cited in monographs of various genera by other writers. Although he had been in declining health for years and did no more field work in the last ten or twelve years, he left several unpublished botanical studies at the time of his death.

Brother Wolfgang’s collection of plants, as he left them in the St. Bernard College herbarium was donated to Auburn University in 1995 where it is provided permanent, professional curatorial care. Auburn University is the designated State Herbarium and this donation was noted in the 9th Edition of Index Herbariorum, a reference source for addresses of herbaria and curators widely used by researchers and others.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Roland M. Harper (1951) Death of W. Wolf. Castanea 16(1): 23-24.

Wolfgang Wolf, an occaional contributor to Castanea and other botanical magazines for over thirty years past, was born in Regensburg, Bavaria, January 16, 1872, and died at St. Bernard, Alabama, September 22, 1950. He came to St. Bernard Abbey, near Cullman, in the 90's, and soon became a lay brother in the Benedictine order, known to his associates and frineds as Brother Wolfgang.

He seems to have known nothing of botany when he came to America, and for a number of years served as tailor for the Abbey. But he soon became fascinated by the considerable variety of native plants in the forests around him, and he managed to get together enough books to identify most of them, and gradualy built up a modest botanical library and herbarium for St. Bernard College. Althogh Dr. Charles Mohr made many visits to Cullman in the 80's and 90's mostly in summer, and discovered several new plants around there, Brother Wolfgang had one advantage over him in bight there all the year round; and before long he began to find plants not adequately described in books.

His first published new species was Talinum Mengesii (Am. Midl. Nat. 6: 153-155. 1920.), which was found to tak the place of the better-known T. teretifolium in Alabama. Later he described T. appalachianum, as yet known only from a single locality near the center of the state, in the same magazine [American Midland Naturalist] (22:324-331. 1939.) About 1930 he began to suspect that there were more species of Erythronium in Alabama than the books allowed for, and after studying them for several years, described two new species in Castanea for February 1941 (E. Harperi and E. rostratum). He also discovered and described two hybrid oaks, which he called Quercus Bernardiansis and Q. Capesii. The former was described tin Torreya in 1918, and the latter in Castanea in 1945.

Early in his botanical experience his attention was called by some of his associates to a member of the Monotropaceae growing in his immediate vicinity, but always covered by fallen leaves, so that it was hard to find; and it was several years before he saw enough specimens to represent all stages and permit a thorough study of it. He then saw that it was related to Monotropsis, but that was currently described, in the books that committed themselves on that point at all, as having a capsular fruit, and it was not supposed to occur in Alabama at all; while his plant had an indehiscent baccate fruit. That led him to conclude that he had a new genus, and even a new tribe; and he described it in considerable detail, with several illustrations, in the American Midland Naturalist, 8: 104-127. 1922. Later it turned out that existing descriptions of Monotropsis were erroneous as to fruit, which was really just as Wolf had described it for his supposed new genus; and there were no other significant characters to separate it. So he had merely added another genus and spcies, Monotropsis odorata Ell., to the known flora of Alabama.

In describing new species Brother Wolfgang was hampered by the limited library and herbarium facilities of the college (a small junior college), though his superiors appreciated his work, and would doubtless have gotten more books and magazines for him if thier slender funds had permitted. He was a very painstaking worker, and correpsonded with several of the leadng American taxonomists, some of whom visited him occasionally.

Most of his botanizing was done within walking distance of the college, in a sandstone region, but he made occasional trips to Warnock Mountain, with rich limestone slopes, in the next county south, and to Baldwin County in extreme southern Alabama; and on these trips he collected quite a number of plants which have been cited in monographs of various genera by othe writers. He had been in declining health for years, and did no more field work in the last ten or twelve years, but left several unpublished botanical studies at the time of his death.

The following information on plants named by Brother Wolfgang Wolf comes from the USDA, NRCS. 2004. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

Talinum mengesii W. Wolf
Range: Virginia, Tennessee (Threatened), North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama

Talinum appalachianum W. Wolf is a synonym for Talinum parviflorum Nutt.
Range: Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota

Erythronium harperi W. Wolf is a synonym for Erythronium americanum Ker-Gawler ssp. Harperi (W. Wolf) Parks & Hardin
Range: Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia

Erythronium rostratum W. Wolf
Range: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas

Quercus X bernardianis W. Wolf (pro sp.) [Quercus prinus X Quercus stellata]
Range: Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama

Quercus X capesii W. Wolf [Quercus nigra X Quercus phellos]
Range: New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana

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W. Wolf, O.S. B. (1945) Quercus Capesii (Quercus Phellos L. X Quercus nigra L.) Castanea 10(3): 91.

Arbor (juvenilis); folia glabra, obovato-oblonga vel oblonga, pinnatilobata (vel integerrima), lobis brevibus, acutis acuminatisve, setosis; venatio revoluta.

The hybrid nature of the here designated Quercus Capesii is exceptionally well expressed by two distinctive features, namely, vernation and leaf shape. The revolute vernation indicates Quercus Phellos parentage. Leaf shape, however, is indicative of Quercus nigra parentage and involves two dominant character expressions -- broad leaf-shape against narrow leaf-shape, and marginal lobation against entire leaf margin. At presnt pinnately lobed leaves are still in marked evidence (a juvenile expression), but the simultaneous occurrence of adult (nigra) leaf shapes indicates a transition age.

Some twenty years ago Dr. A. Caesius was raising some willow oak seelings for the purpose of future transplanting. The unexpected result was that a rather high percentage of seedlings showed hybrid character, although all the seeds were taken from one and the same cultivated Quercus Phellos tree which grows amidst an assembly of cultivated Quercus nigra specimens. Quercus nigra is also a native species of the place, but Quercus Phellos is not.

St. Bernard College, St. Bernard, Ala.