Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Alma Holland Beers
(10 January 1892 -- 31 October 1974)

NCU has over 200 vascular plant and over 450 fungal specimens collected Alma Holland Beers.  Without doubt many more will be found as we continue to catalog all our collections. 

Alma Holland Beers was a frequent co-collector with Dr. W. C. Coker and Nancy Eliason. In fact, on many labels Dr. Coker puts simply "Alma & Nancy" or even "the girls" as co-collectors.

You can search NCU’s mycological collections using the Macrofungi Collections Consortium website; to search for Alma Holland Beers’ specimens, enter “Holland” in the Collector Last Name field, as she used her maiden name on most labels.

Alma Leonora Holland was born January 10, 1892 in Moore County, North Carolina. Her parents were James Leonidas Holland and Inez Neglina Leach, both farmers.

In 1917 she enrolled in summer session at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she took a botany course under Dr. William Chambers Coker. Impressed with the care and precision of her work, Dr. Coker asked Miss Holland to remain in the Botany Department as a "research assistant." She was never given another title, but while bearing this one performed the duties of teacher, editor, librarian, translator, secretary, artist, and plant collector. She reported that she was so elated to receive this position that she burned her certificate for teaching in public schools.

She was the first woman hired by the Botany department as a research assistant. While in the employ of the Department, she also took occasional courses, earning her B.A. degree in 1925 and becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

In 1941 she married Dr. Charles Dale Beers of the Zoology Department. She spent summers with him in Cold Springs, New York, to escape the North Carolina heat and humidity. In 1951, Mrs. Beers retired from the Botany Department, stating simply, "Henceforth I shall dig in my garden and raise flowers." She passed away on October 31, 1974.

Portrait of Alma Holland Beers

Alma was well-known within the department for her skills as an illustrator and contributed to most of the publications produced during her thirty-three year career.   Holland designed “Carolina Moon” chinaware for the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill.  This chinaware was produced by the Shenango China Company of New Castle, Delaware.  She was also accomplished in Latin and French and aided faculty and students by translating works in those languages (see the letter reproduced below).

"Research Assistant"

Executive editor of the Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society from 1946-1951.

Co-author of two books with Dr. Coker (see bibliography).

Caretaker of the Botany Department's collection of books, later the core of the
John N. Couch Biology Library

Illustrator of numerous botanical works of UNC faculty.

Botany instructor—her favorite course to teach was a fern class.

Secretary to Dr. Coker—this involved typing and editing his voluminous and cryptic notes.


Below is a drawing of a Vaccinium specimen and the closing portion of a translation which she wrote. The translation may be clicked upon to view a larger image.

Beers' drawing sample     Beers' handwriting sample


The only biographical article on Alma Holland Beers (barring a few brief newspaper items) was written by Mr. William R. Burk of the Couch Biology Library. This appeared in the Spring, 1986 issue of the Friends of the UNC Herbarium Newsletter, pp. 7-8.

The two books which Mrs. Beers co-authored with Dr. Coker are: Boletaceae of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1943. This was reprinted by Dover Publications in 1974 as Boleti of North Carolina.Stipitate hydnums of the eastern United States. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1951.

Complete bibliography of works by or about Alma Holland Beers.

This page was constructed by Ron Gilmour with the assistance of Mr. Bill Burk, Mrs. Mary Felton,
Dr. Jim Massey, and Mr. Jim Murphy. Additional information and corrections are welcome.

         Curriculum in Ecology                 North Carolina Botanical Garden               Biology Department
                   Curriculum                               North Carolina                                 UNC

                      In Ecology                              Botanical Garden                   Biology Department


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

Last Updated: 9 May 2014