Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator, NCU
Special thanks to Teresa Inman, Presbyterian College Archivist
and to
Dr. Jim Massey, Curator Emeritus of the University of North Carolina Herbarium

Frederick Charles James
(11 May 1935 – 19 July 2002)


The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) has catalogued approximately 1770 of Fred James’ specimens. The vast majority were collected in Virginia as the basis of his doctoral thesis on the woody flora of that state.  With only about 10% of the collection catalogued, no doubt more specimens collected by him will be found.

Fred James was born in Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California, the son of Charles and Caroline Jicha James.1 He is a member of the Virginia High School Hall of Fame for scoring 83 points in a single basketball game (Churchland vs. Poquoson on 19 February 1954), a record that has been broken only by Johnny Morris in 1961 with 127 points.2 He earned his undergraduate degree from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.  James earned his Ph.D. in 1969 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill under the direction of Dr. Al Radford.  The title of James’ thesis was “The woody flora of Virginia.”

He taught at Westmar College in LeMars, Iowa for two years, then began is long association with Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina.  He taught at Presbyterian College for 31 years, and was twice selected as Professor of the Year (1982 and 2002).  James led the inaugural “Maymester” course of five students to Puerto Rico in 1972.  “We were gone for 21 days, and the cost for the entire trip was $350… We had experts in frog calls, tropical forestry, tropical vegetation, and marine biologists join us on our trip… These [travel] experiences get the student out of the classroom into real-life situations.  It allows them to experience other cultures and to realize how our problems often pale when considered next to those experienced by other people.  As a teacher I can’t return to the campus as the same person.  I have witnessed students become excited about exploring other overseas experiences.  That, in turn, has allowed me to bring new adventures into the classroom which I personally experienced and not just read about in a book.”5 James went on to lead field trips to the Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Africa, and Hawai’i.1 

Dr. Jim Massey, Curator Emeritus of the University of North Carolina Herbarium remembers, “Fred was an outstanding teacher both as a graduate student and later as a professor.  I remember seeing him with his students when they visited the Herbarium and thought if Fred said to line up and jump out the 4th floor of Coker Hall they would all want to know if they could go first.”4

Fred James with Lara Collier '93 in PC Greenhouse.jpg

Dr. Fred James with Presbyterian College student, Lara Collier (class of 1993)
Photo courtesy of Presbyterian College archives


G. Ansley Wallace wrote, “During examination of herbarium specimens for a biosystematic study of the woody Smilax species of the United States, several specimens were found in collections from California that represent a hitherto unnoticed species of herbaceous Smilax (section Coprosmanthus Torrey).  It is with great pleasure that I name this species in honor of Dr. Fred James of Presbyterian College, Clinton, South Carolina, who first sparked my interest in botany while an instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.”3 The holotype of Smilax jamesii , collected by Oettinger & Thorne in Siskiyou County in 1969, is held by RSA.


Smilax jamesii G. Wallace
Photograph by Sheli Wingo; used with permission

James, the Pulaski L. Bealy Smith Professor of Biology, retired from Presbyterian College in 2002, and  died in Columbia, South Carolina on 19 July 2002.  He was survived by his wife, Joanna Hardee James, and daughters, Donna Davis and Julie James.

On October 26, 2002, the Presbyterian College Board of Trustees announced that a scholarship to enable faculty and students to share off-campus learning experiences would be established in James’ honor and that the greenhouse would be named in his honor.  In November 2002 Fred James was named the 2002-2003 South Carolina Professor of the year by the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education based in Washington, D.C. 


James and students on South Carolina coast (pre-1983)
Photo courtesy of Presbyterian College Archives




1.      Obituary:  Dr. Frederick C.  James.  The Greenville News, July 21, 2001.

2.      Virginia High School League Book of Records, 17th Ed. 2011-2012, Mike McCall, ed.  Charlottesville, Va.:  Virginia High School League, Pub.  Pg. 13.

3.      Wallace, G. Ansley (1979)  An overlooked new species of Smilax (Smilacaceae) from northern California.  Brittonia 31(3):  416-421.

4.      Personal communication, email between McCormick and J. Massey 18 June 2012.

5.      Vosburgh, Grant (2000)  A quarter-century of learning in “Life’s Laboratory:  PC’s biology Maymester trips have made science a hands-on activity.”  Presbyterian College Magazine 53(3):  36-43.

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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: 16 June 2012