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, Asst. Curator, UNC Herbarium. 

Special thanks to Daniel R. Smith,
Dean of Learning Resources & Technology
and Curator of the Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. Library & Museum,
Western Piedmont Community College, Morganton, North Carolina
and to
Scott Harbison, Ruby D. Harbison Pharr’s son, for photograph

Ruby Deaton Harbison Pharr
b. 1929

The UNC Herbarium has catalogued approximately 50 specimens collected by Ruby Deaton Harbison Pharr. Most specimens were collected in Burke and Ashe Counties, North Carolina, and most were collected under the name “Ruby D. Harbison.”  Other herbaria that hold Ms. Pharr’s specimens include Appalachian State University  (BOON) and Reedy Creek Park and Nature Preserve (UNCC).


Ruby Deaton Harbison Pharr was born in Montgomery County, North Carolina, but grew up in Quincy, Florida.  Her family moved to Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina when she was in her teens.1  She graduated with a B.A. from Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina in 1965, and earned an M.S. from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina in 1965.  She later earned her Education Specialist in Science from Appalachian State University.  


In 1966 she began her teaching career at Western Piedmont Community College in Morganton, North Carolina.  She taught general biology, environmental science, botany, anatomy and physiology.1  In 1981 she taught “Ecology of the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia” which included a week-long field trip.  The course was co-taught by Bob Benner, a physical education instructor, and included not only “study of the variety of plant and animal life found in the lakes, prairies, hammocks, swamps and cypress forests of the swamp,” but also “various camping and canoeing skills will be learned as the group lives in tents, prepares camp meals, and canoes thru the Okefenokee wilderness and the adjoining Suwanee River.”2

In 1986 she received the “Excellence in Teaching Award” from Western Piedmont Community College.   




In 1980 Ruby Harbison authored “Trail Guide to Bluff Mountain Preserve, Ashe County, North Carolina.” The book was illustrated by Laurie Radford and published by Regulator Press of Durham, North Carolina. On April 25, 1987 the North Carolina Nature Conservancy recognized her efforts in the protection of Bluff Mountain with the Avery Holman Stewardship Award.  When the award was presented, Conservancy staff noted, “Ruby served as the Chairwoman of the Bluff Mountain Stewardship Committee since its inception in 1978 until 1986.  She is responsible for generating local support for the Bluff project and for writing and editing the Trail Guide to Bluff Mountain Nature Preserve, one of the most complete and professional preserve guides produced by the Conservancy nationwide.”4  Ruby Harbison Pharr also served on the Bat Cave Stewardship Committee of the Nature Conservancy in the 1980’s. 

Ms. Pharr became Instructor Emerita at Western Piedmont Community College in 1995.


Ms. Pharr is a founder and past board member of the Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina.  She is the namesake and in 2006 was the first recipient of the “Ruby Pharr Conservation Volunteer Award” given by the Foothills Conservancy.  “Established in her honor, the award recognizes a volunteer(s) each year who embodies Ruby’s outstanding volunteer efforts for the conservancy and her lifelong devotion to land and water conservation in the Blue Ridge Foothills.” 3




1.       Winters, Kelly (1988)  Teacher gets back to nature.  News Herald, Morganton, North Carolina, issue of  21 September 1988.

2.      Anonymous (1981) WPCC sets swamp ecology course.  News Herald, Morganton, North Carolina, issue of  9 March 1981.

3.      Anonymous (2007)  Ruby Pharr Conservation Volunteer of the year Award goes to “Save Chimney Rock” Leaders.  Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina Newsletter Fall/Winter 2007, page 6. accessed on 21 October 2011.

4.      The Nature Conservancy Newsletter, Summer 1987 issue.




            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: 28 October 2011