Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled  byCarol Ann McCormick,
Curator of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)

Donald Joseph Drapalik
(10 December 1934 – 22 May 2015)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) has catalogued to date about 120 vascular plant specimens collected by Donald Drapalik. Most specimens were collected in Georgia where he spent most of his academic career.  As databasing of the entire collection continues no doubt more of Drapalik’s specimens will be found.

Other herbaria that hold specimens collected by Drapalik include Georgia Southern University Herbarium (GAS),  Florida Natural History Museum (FLAS), Appalachian State University (BOON), Carnegie Museum of Natural History Herbarium (CM), College of William & Mary (WILLI), Indiana University (IND), Kent State University (KE), Louisiana State University (LSU), Missouri Botanical Garden (MO), Murray State University (MUR), Tulane University (NO), University of Georgia (GA), University of South Carolina (USCH), University of South Florida (USF), University of the South (UOS), Valdosta State University (VSC), and Western Carolina University (WCUH).

Donald J. Drapalik, ca. 2003
Photograph courtesy of Georgia Southern University


Donald Joseph Drapalik earned a B.A. from Southern Illinois University, Carbondale in 1959 and a M.A. in botany from that same institution in 1962.  He earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1970 under the direction of C. Ritchie Bell.  The title of Drapalik’s doctoral thesis was “A biosystematics study of the genus Matelea in the southeastern United States.”



Drapalik with a Matelea vine in
Lost Creek Forest, Thomas County, Georgia
October 10, 2010
Photo courtesy of Friends of Lost Creek Forest




Drapalik began his long association with Georgia Southern University in 1968 as an assistant professor.  He was promoted to associate professor in 1973, and attained full professor in 2002.  He retired from the Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University on June 30, 2003.1 


“Dr. Drapalik helped protect the forested tract known as the Herty Pines on [Georgia Southern University] campus, when that tract was being considered as a football stadium site.  With Emeritus Professor Dr. Frank French, he worked to protect habitat, design trails and provide interpretive signs for the Herty Nature Preserve.  Dr. Drapalik has overseen the curation and development of the Georgia Southern Herbarium [GAS], a wonderful resource and record of regional plant natural history.  This collection has approximately 16,000 mounted specimens, plus several thousand more that will be incorporated after proper preparation.  He is known for his research program on Elliottia racemosa, the Georgia plume.  Dr. Drapalik has also cared for the departmental greenhouse.  He helped with the early formation of the Georgia Southern University Botanical Garden and has served on the Garden Advisory Committee and Board of Directors.  His dedication to professional, departmental, and university service led to departmental and college service awards.  In addition, Dr. Drapalik won a 2001 Georgia Southern University Excellence in Service Award and the College of Science & Technology Service Award.  He has been active in professional organizations, particularly the Association of Southeastern Biologists and Georgia Academy of Sciences.  He was active in undergraduate and graduate student instruction and mentoring.  He served on the committees of 27 graduate students.  His students will fondly remember him as someone who loved to teach field botany courses.” 1



Elliottia racemosa
Photo courtesy of


Donald Drapalik died at age 80 in Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia on 22 May 2015.  His spouse, Joy Drapalik (1954-2006), is buried next to him in the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.2



Drapalik, Donald J. (2000)  2000 Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award Recipient:  C. Ritchie Bell.  Castanea 65(3):  173-176.

Wolfe, Lorne M. and Donald J. Drapalik (1999)  Variation in the degree of andromonoecy in Prunus caroliniana.  Castanea 64(3):  259-262.

Bennett, Missy Mallard, Donald J. Drapalik and Frank E. French (1983)  Herty Nature Trail Guide, Georgia Southern University.  Statesboro, Ga.:  Georgia Southern College Museum.

Drapalik, Donald J. (1983) Charles H. Herty Nature Preserve Trail guide for the Wetfoot (Short) Trail.  Statesboro, Ga.:  Georgia Southern College.

Drapalik, Donald J. (1970) 
A biosystematics study of the genus Matelea in the southeastern United States.  Chapel Hill, N.C.:  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Botany. 

Bruce, James G., Donald J. Drapalik and Wayne R. Faircloth (1974)  Lycopodium cernuum in Georgia’s coastal plain.  American Fern Journal 64(4):  120-121.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H. and Donald J. Drapalik (1962)  The Cyperaceae of Illinois.  American Midland Naturalist 67(2):  398-423.

Drapalik, Donald Joseph (1962)  The effects of inundation upon lowland groundcover plants.  Carbondale, Il.:  Southern Illinois University, Dept. of Botany. 

Drapalik, Donald J. and Robert H. Mohlenbrock (1960)  The taxonomic status of Eleocharis elliptica.  American Midland Naturalist 63(1):  143-148.

Drapalik, Donald J. and Robert H. Mohlenbrock (1960)  A study of Eleocharis, series Ovatea.  American Midland Naturalist 64(2):  339-341.

Drapalik, Donald J. and Robert H. Mohlenbrock (1960)  Eleocharis elliptica and E. compressa:  Further notes and corrections.  American Midland Naturalist 64(2):  501-502.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H. and Donald J. Drapalik (1960)  Eleocharis, subseries Palustres, in Illinois.  American Midland Naturalist 64(1):  224-228.

Georgia Southern University Department of Biology [newsletter]  2 (1)
2.  Find A Grave, database & images (  accessed 16 October 2018), memorial page for Dr. Donald Joseph Drapalik (10 Dec 1934 – 22 May 2015), Find A Grave Memorial no. 67089924, citing Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Statesboro, Bulloch County, Georgia, USA; Maintained by Kay W. Waters (contributor 46890871).


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931


Last Updated: October 2018