Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, Curator of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU),
with assistance from Ruth Dorrel, Archivist, Franklin College;
Beth Swift, Archivist, Wabash College; and
Mary Mellon, Asst. Archivist & Molly Wittenberg, Archive Records Manager, Indiana University

Elmon McLean Fisher
(19 August 1861 – 8 September 1938)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has catalogued about 50 fungi collected by Elmon McLean Fisher, though as our collections continue to be catalogued more may be found.  Dr. Fisher usually signed his name as “E. M. Fisher” on specimen labels.  All specimens at NCU were collected during the year of 1890, as were many specimens curated by other herbaria.  What accounts for this sudden interest in fungi is not apparent, though perhaps his business interest in grain elevators led him to study the pathogens of the grains upon which his livelihood depended.  All NCU’s fungal collections can be found at the Mycology Collections Portal, a collaboration of 35 institutions in 24 states formed to database both microfungi and macrofungi.  A search in April 2017 of various herbaria revealed no specimens of bryophytes or vascular plants collected by Elmon Fisher, though as collections continue to be cataloged (Consortium of North American Bryophyte Herbaria and Southeast Regional Network of Expertise and Collections ) perhaps some will be found.

Herbaria which curate fungal specimens collected by Fisher include 1: 
Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University (PH)
Bishop Museum (BISH)
Cornell University (CUP)
Iowa State University (ISC)
Miami University (MU)
Michigan State University (MSC)
New York Botanical Garden (NY)
Ohio State University (OSU)
Purdue University (PUR)
United States National Fungus Collections (BPI)
University of Arizona (ARIZ)
University of British Columbia (UBC)
University of California (UC)
University of Florida (FLAS)
University of Georgia (GAM)
University of Illinois & Illinois Natural History Survey (ILL & ILLS)
University of Michigan (MICH)
University of Minnesota (MIN)
University of Nebraska (NEB)
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (NCU)
University of Wisconsin Madison (WIS)
University of Wyoming (RMS)
United States Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station (FPF)
Washington State University (WSP)

Label of a fungal specimen collected by Elmon M. Fisher
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)

Elmon Fisher was born in Urmeyville, Needham Township, Johnson County, Indiana on 19 August 1861 to Ellen McLean (sometimes spelled McClain or McClaine) Fisher and John Fisher, a farmer.8  In addition to Elmon, the Fishers had two other children: Ira, two years older than Elmon, and Elmon’s twin sister, Alma.6  Elmon Fisher earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Franklin College (Franklin, Indiana) in 1889.9 

According to Wabash College Archivist, Elizabeth Swift, “John Merle Coulter taught at Wabash College from 1879-1891.  Coulter was an amazing teacher and a leader in the field of botany in that era.  Elmon Fisher was a postgraduate student with Coulter at Wabash College from 1889-1891.”  One source shows Fisher having earned a Masters degree (A. M.) in 1891, but it is unclear from what institution.4   “In 1892 Coulter departed to become President of Indiana University, and his student, Elmon Fisher, went with him.”3  Fisher was granted a Ph.D. from Indiana University (Bloomington, Indiana) in 1892 and the title of his doctoral thesis was “Revision of the North American species of Hoffmanseggia.”2  Swift continues, “Coulter felt that being President of Indiana University left him too little time to pursue his botanical research, so he left IU to accept the presidency at Lake Forest College in Illinois.”3 

In 1894, while at Lake Forest College, Coulter was a co-author with Frederick V. Coville, L. H. Dewey and Lucien M. Underwood of  “Manual of the Phanerogams and Pteridophytes of Western Texas:  Apetalae, Monocotyledonae, Pteridophyta” published in Contributions from the United States National Herbarium Vol. 2 No. 3.  Coulter notes, “In this revision of names Dr. Elmon M. Fisher, one of my assistants has been of great service.”  Whether Fisher resided in Lake Forest, or simply communicated by letter or visits to Coulter, is unclear.  “Coulter left Lake Forest College to teach and research at University of Chicago.  Coulter’s papers are at the University of Chicago, where he finished his life’s work.”3

The Wabash College Herbarium (WAB) comprising 17,442 specimens, was transferred to the New York Botanical Garden Herbarium (NY) in 1987.5 A search of NY in April 2017 revealed only 11 fungal specimens and no vascular plant specimens collected by Elmon Fisher.

Fisher frequently collected in his hometown of Urmeyville (39°31’19”N latitude, 85°59’07”W longitude), an unincorporated community in Needham Township, Johnson County, Indiana.  A post office was established there in 1866, but discontinued operations in 1898.7  Fisher also collected specimens in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, Indiana, home to Wabash College.

Astragalus atropubescens J.M. Coult. & Fisher
a taxon named by John M. Coulter and Elmon Fisher

Image courtesy of CalPhotos, University of California, Berkeley

Though NCU’s specimens are all fungi, Fisher also studied vascular plants, those in the Fabaceae in particular.  Fisher (or Fisher & J. M. Coulter) described the following taxa:

-          Caesalpinia falcaria (Cav.) Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18:  122.  1893.)  “Indian rushpea”; now considered to be Hoffmannseggia glauca (Ortega) Eifert
In the same 1893 publication, Fisher also described five varieties of Caesalpinia falcaria:  var. capitata (Fisher) Fisher; var. densiflora (Benth.) Fisher; var. pringlei (Fisher) Fisher; var. rusbyi (Fisher) Fisher; and var. stricta (Benth.) Fisher.
--Hoffmannseggia texensis Fisher (Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 1(5):  147.  1892.) Hoffmanseggia texana [orthographic variant]; now considered as Caesalpinia drummondii (Torr. & A. Gray) Fisher.
--Hoffmannseggia canescens Fisher (Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 1(5):  149.  1892.);  now considered Pomaria canescens (Fisher) B. B. Simpson.
--Hoffmannseggia melanosticta (Schauer) Gray var. parryi Fisher (Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 1(5):  149.  1892.)  “Parry’s holdback”; now considered to be Pomaria melanosticta S. Schauer
--Hoffmannseggia melanosticta (Schauer) Gray var. greggii Fisher (Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 1(5):  149.  1892.)  now considered to be Hoffmannseggia melanosticta (S. Schauer) A. Gray or Pomaria melanosticta S. Schauer.
--Petalostemon glandulosus J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  299.  1893.) “slimspike prairie clover”; now considered to be Dalea phleoides (Torr. & A. Gray) Shinners
--Astragalus strigosus J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  299.  1893.)  “timber milkvetch”; now considered to be Astragalus miser Douglas ex Hook. var. miser
--Astragalus atropubescens J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  300.  1893.); “hangingpod milkvetch”
--Hedysarum flavescens J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  300-301.  1893.); “white sweetvetch”; nom. illeg. as Hedysarum flavescens Regel & Schmalh. had priority; now considered to be Hedysarum sulphurescens Rydb.
--Aster macdougali J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  301.  1893.) “western showy aster”; Aster macdougalii [orthographic variant] now considered to be Eurybia conspicua (Lindley) G. L. Nesom
--Mimulus lewisii Pursh var. exsertus J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  302.  1893.) “purple monkeyflower”
--Pentstemon linearifolius J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  302.  1893.) “Lyall’s beardtongue”; Penstemon linearifolius [orthographic variant]; usually considered as Penstemon lyallii (A. Gray) A. Gray var. linearifolius Krautter
--Pentstemon ellipticus J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  302-303.  1893.) “rocky ledge penstemon”; Penstemon ellipticus [orthographic variant]
--Plantago patagonica Jacq. var. lanatifolia J. M. Coult. & Fisher (Botanical Gazette 18(8):  303.  1893.) “woolly plantain”


Obituary from The Franklin Evening Star, 9 September 1938:9
Elmon Fisher, 77, Veteran Grain Dealer, is Dead; Funeral Services to be held Monday at Second Mt. Pleasant
     Elmon McClain Fisher, age 77, dean of Johnson County’s [Indiana] grain dealers, died in his home in Needham township Thursday evening at 6:45 o’clock after an illness of one year.
     In the grain elevator business for 45 years, Mr. Fisher had more than a million bushels of corn and as many of wheat go across the scales to his storage bin.
     He became a success as a result of his own untiring work and efforts and thorough knowledge of farming.
     He was born Aug. 19, 1861, in Needham township, where his entire life was spent.  He was one of three children born to John and Ellen McClain Fisher. 
     On April 14, 1907, he was married to Miss Cora Etta Webb, who survives.  They had no children.  A twin sister of Mr. Fisher, Mrs. Charles Shepard, lives near Needham.  Their brother, Dr. Ira Fisher, died several years ago.  A niece, Mrs. Gladys Jones, of Los Angeles, Cal., and a nephew, Howard Shepard, of Needham, are the only other survivors.
     Franklin Graduate.  Mr. Fisher graduated from Franklin College in 1889 and was recently honored by Indiana Delta of Phi Delta Theta when presented with a Gold Legion certificate signifying he had been a member of the fraternity more than 50 years.
     He received a Master’s degree from Indiana University and later attended Purdue University. 
     One of the county’s most respected citizens, he died leaving behind an institution which will stand as a memorial for years to come, the Second Mt. Pleasant church, a church largely made possibly by the many gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Fisher.  Among the nation’s most beautiful rural churches, it was dedicated in April 1929. 
     Mr. Fisher built the Needham [grain] elevator and had continued the business there for 45 years.
His Many Experiences.  Throughout the years, he had watched the progress of county crops, hearing the tales of woe from farmers whose crops had failed and looking at their expressions of satisfaction when a bumper crop marked the end of a successful year.
     Mr. Fisher had seen corn go from 18 cents a bushel to the war-time high of $2.20 and then back to the Depression low of 12 and 13 cents.  Bumper crops of wheat [filled] the elevator and forced workmen to use barns and cribs for storing the grain, as in 1917, when the government called for more land to be brought into cultivation to supply the crop needs and send food to the Allies, all are among the life experiences of Mr. Fisher.
     Funeral services will be held at the Second Mount Pleasant church Monday morning at 10:30 o’clock.  Rites will be conducted by the Rev. A. E. Murphy, of Hartford, Mich. [Michigan].  He will be assisted by the Rev. Frank Lansing, church pastor.  Burial will be in Greenlawn cemetery, in the mausoleum.  Friends are invited to call at the home in Needham any time after Saturday morning.
PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):
Fisher, E. M. (1892)  Revision of the North American species of Hoffmannseggia.  Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 1(5):  143-150.  Stable URL:

Coulter, J. M. and E. M. Fisher (1892)  Some new North American plants I.  Botanical Gazette 17(11):  348-352.

Coulter, John M. and Elmon F. Fisher (1893)  New and noteworthy North American plants.  Botanical Gazette 18(8):  299-303.  Stable URL: 

Fisher, E. M. (1893)  The genus Caesalpinia.  Botanical Gazette 18(4):  121-123.  Stable URL: 


1.  Mycology Collections Portal. accessed on 19 April 2017.

2.  Indiana University catalog.  1891/92-1895/96.;view=1up;seq=299 accessed on 18 April 2017.

3.  pers. comm. Email from Elizabeth Swift 18 April 2017.

4.  Phi Delta Theta Fraternity.  The Catalogue of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity, 8th ed.  New York:  R. L. Polk & company, 1918.  Page 244.

5.  “Wabash College” Index Herbariorum.  accessed on 19 April 2017. 

6.  1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2009.  Images reproduced by FamilySearch.  Accessed on 17 April 2017. 

7.  Urmeyville, Indiana.  Wikipedia.,_Indiana  accessed on 19 April 2017.

8.  pers. comm.  Email dated 14 April 2017 from Ruth Dorrel, citing Franklin College alumni bulletin of 1928. 

9.  pers. comm. Email dated 14 April 2017 from Ruth Dorrel, transcription of obituary which appeared in The Franklin Evening Star on 9 September 1938.


   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


Last Updated:  20 April 2017