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
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.
] in 1945.
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.
] in 1918
and the latter in Castanea
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
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.
Harper (1951) Death of W. Wolf. Castanea
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.
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,
Ell., to the known flora of Alabama.
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
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,
W. Wolf, O.S.
B. (1945) Quercus Capesii
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.
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
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.
College, St. Bernard, Ala.