Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled in December 2011  by Carol Ann McCormick,
Assistant Curator of the University of North Carolina Herbarium. 
Special thanks to Andrea Abernathy, Bowling Library, Judson College.

Mary Maxine Larisey
(1909 - 2000 )

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has no specimens collected by Maxine Larisey, but has several dozen specimens that she annotated, including the Holotype and Isotype of Baptisia riparia named by her.  Presumably, CHARL and MO hold most of her collections.

Maxine Larisey was born in Terra Haute, Indiana, and received all her academic degrees from Washington University in St. Louis Missouri (1).  She earned her B.A. in 1932, M.S. in 1935, and Ph.D. in 1939.  The title of her doctoral thesis was “A monograph of the genus Baptisia.”

After a brief teaching stint at Wellesley College in Massachusetts in 1938-1939, Larisey joined the faculty of Judson College (Marion, Alabama), the nation’s fifth oldest college for women (2, 3).  Larisey was an Assistant Professor in 1940, then Associate Professor and Chairman of the Division of Science from 1944-1947 (7).

Portrait of Juliet Fauntleroy
Mary Maxine Larisey

Photo courtesy of Waring Historical Library,
Medical University of South Carolina; date unknown

In 1947 Larisey became the first female professor at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston.  She was a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, and taught botany until her retirement in 1975 (2). She served as the president of the South Carolina chapter of the American Association of University Women from 1955-1957 (1).


Larisey was a very active member of Unitarian Church in Charleston, served on the vestry, and was the Archives Chairman of the Women’s Alliance of that congregation (4). In 1967 she wrote “The Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina:  A Brief History.”  Dr. Larisey left a bequest for the Unitarian Churchyard which has been used to pay for restoration of more than 50 stone monuments (5). 



Wickenberg, Margaret G. (1952) Dr. Mary Maxine Larisey Aids Museum:  Woman botanist join Charleston Museum.  The News & Courier, 20 April 1952, p. 33.


     In a musty corner in the rear of the Charleston Museum, a lady doctor is carrying on a Charleston tradition.

     She is Dr. Mary Maxine Larisey, and her field is not the care of the human body, but the care of [varied] plant life.  Dr. Larisey is a botanist.  Since 1947, she has given botanical knowledge to students at the School of Pharmacy of the Medical College of South Carolina.  And for the last two months, she has undertaken a big project for the local museum.

     Dr. Larisey is reorganizing the botanical specimens according to the international system of classification for herbarium.  She has only a few cabinets and a little room to work in at present, but she has plans.  And after many months of untangling and replacing, Dr. Larisey will have the museum herbarium is such order that any botanist would be able to find his way around.

     She started the big task in February [1952] and has been so busy finding out what was there that the actual classification has not made much headway.  At present she is working on the Elliott collection, which she says is the most valuable one here.

     Stephen Elliott, an outstanding botanist of the 19th century, won international fame with his “Sketch of the Botany of South Carolina and Georgia,” published in 1821.  He is recognized as one of the pioneers of American botany.

     Because of Elliott’s collection and others, Dr. Larisey said that the Charleston herbarium would be of mainly use as a reference collection for professional botanists.

     Other workers in the field, whose collections are represented in the herbarium are 19th century botanists.  Dr. Henry W. Ravenel, Dr. Lewis G. Gibbes and Dr. Francis Peyre Porcher. 

     The collection of Dr. John Bachman, friend and co-author of Audobon, was at one time here, but the bulk of his specimens were destroyed in the burning of Columbia during the War Between the States.

     Collections of Miss Laura M. Bragg, director of the Museum from 1909 to the early 1930’s constitutes a large part of the herbarium, Dr. Larisey said.  The most recent significant acquisition is the Kenneth W. Hunt collection which is chiefly of woody plants from all over the United States.  Dr. Hunt was professor at the College of Charleston from 1937 to 1947.

     Dr. Larisey is really practicing her specialty the hours she spends at the museum with her dried botanical specimens.  Her study, both undergraduate and graduate, at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., fitted her to be a taxonomist.  (That is a person who classifies plants and animals according to their natural relationships.)


     But after receiving her doctorate at the Henry Shaw School of Botany at Washington University, she entered the teaching field and has been doing that ever since.  She said she has been delighted to get her hand back into her kind of work.

     Even though the museum has not had a professional botanist on its staff, there have been many in the field who have worked there, collecting, preserving, and investigating the flora of the area.  Dr. Larisey will now add her name to that list.

     Actually, from earliest days, Charleston was a center of botanical research, both amateur and professional.  From Dr. John Lord, a plant collector who founded the settlement of Dorchester in 1696, scientists have added to the knowledge of the flora of this area.  Many have left their names attached to plants they discovered or imported. 

     Most generally known are the Poinsettia, the Gaillardia, the Elliottia, the Gardenia, the Pinckneya and the McBridea.

     Serious botanical work began in Charleston with the arrival of Mark Catesby in 1722.  With his publication of “The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas” in 1751, the first real knowledge of the plants of the Southeast reached the world.


     Collecting and planting continued in the colonies during the 18th century with Dr. Alexander Garden becoming a leader for 30 years in the profession.  Dr. Garden was a correspondent of the European botanists.  Linnaeus, and he was to many visiting scientists. [sic]

     More important visitors were John Bartram and his son, William, who traveled in this area in the 1860’s and 1870’s and alter published accounts of their travels. 

     The best known botanists to come here were the Michaux, father and son, who arrived around 1786.  They are credited with the importation and establishment of the camellia and Chinese azalea.

     Andre [Michaux] Sr. roamed the country gathering material for his book which was published in 1786.  Andre Jr. located a nursery on the north edge of the present Charleston airport.  He cultivated plants for shipment to France and imported ornamental shrubs and flowers for local distribution.



PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list)


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1939)  A monograph of the genus Baptisia. Ph.D. thesis, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1939)  Notes on some Middlewestern species of Baptisia.  Am. J. of Botany 26(7):  538-539.


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1940)  Analysis of a hybrid complex between Baptisia leucantha and Baptisia viridis in Texas.  Am. J. Bot. 27(8):  624-628.


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1940)  A revision of the North American species of the genus Thermopsis.  Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 27(2):  245-258. Stable URL:


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1940)  A monograph of the genus Baptisia.  Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 27(2):  119-218.


Larisey, Mary Maxine and Robert Everard Woodson (195?) A laboratory introduction to general plant biology.  Published by John S. Swift


Larisey, Mary Maxine (1967)  The Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina:  a brief history.



1.       Anonymous (1955) Dr. Maxine Larisey heads State AAUW .  The News & Courier, 3 April 1955, p. 19.,527932





6.      Wickenberg, Margaret G. (1952) Dr. Mary Maxine Larisey Aids Museum:  Woman botanist join Charleston Museum.  The News & Courier, 20 April 1952, p. 33.,4575917

7.      Personal communication, Andrea Abernathy, Librarian, Bowling Library, Judson College, 5 December, 2011.


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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: 5 December 2011