Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Robert Kral
(1926 - )

The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged about 1,800 specimens collected by Robert Kral.Without doubt many more will be found as NCU continues to catalog.

Crabtree, Todd (2012) Vanderbiltís Robert Kral Fifth Member of TNPS [Tennessee Native Plant Society] Hall of Fame.Newsletter of the Tennessee Native Plant Society36(4):5.

Robert Kral grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa and became inspired by his fatherís large library of Luther Burbankís writings.After studying forestry and serving in World War II and Korea, he continued his education at Florida State University, where he earned his doctorate. He then began teaching and would eventually settle in 1965 at Vanderbilt University to teach for the next 30 years.

He has contributed to the botanical literature to the tune of over 100 papers and two books. A two-volume tome with detailed information on rare plants of the Southeast amounts to over 1000 pages. He even contributed illustrations for those volumes.

While producing those documents he was diligently fleshing out the intricate details of botany in the southeastern United States. He was also fulfilling his duty teaching at Vanderbilt University and curating a growing collection of plant specimens.

Along the way he became the recognized authority on the genus Xyris and has discovered several new species in that group. He even discovered a new species of Xyris in Tennessee, Xyris tennesseensis.

His contributions to ongoing projects is significant. His work on difficult groups, like sedges, for the Flora of North America project is proof of his extensive knowledge. Other botanists think so highly of Dr. Kral that they have named new species in his honor. The latest of these was just described by Dr. Dwayne Estes.Penstemon kralii is found in areas of limestone outcrop soils on the southern Cumberland Plateau.

His influence also extends to the northern end of the plateau where the species that he and Dr. Eugene Wofford of UT [University of Tennessee - Knoxville] described resides. The Cumberland sandwort, Minuartia cumberlandensis, is found in sandstone rock houses near the Tennessee/Kentucky border.

In the decade or so since retiring from teaching at Vanderbilt Dr. Kral has continued to curate the treasure trove of specimens he accumulated during his long career.

These specimens, which were collected by Dr. Kral and numerous other botanist, are now housed a facility in Texas. Thatís a long commute from southern Georgia, where he now resides, and just one example of the dedication that made this man one of the giants in botany in Tennessee and beyond.



†† 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: 1 May 2015