The University of North Carolina Herbarium
has catalogued about 900 specimens collected by Jimmy Massey. As only approximately 10% of the collection
has been catalogued, without doubt there are thousands more Massey specimens
to be found and catalogued. Most
specimens were collected from the Southeastern United States, though plants
from Texas and Oklahoma collected during Massey’s student years are also
numerous. Other herbaria holding
Massey’s specimens include BRIT, OKL, and UNCC.
A native of Mart, Texas, Massey
was an honor graduate of Mart High School in 1958. He attended Tarleton State College from
1958-1960, and graduated with a B.S. from North Texas State University in
1962. Massey earned a M.S. in botany
at Texas A & M in 1965. Massey’s
advisor was Dr. John Sperry and his thesis was titled “A study of the vascular
hydrophytes in eight central Texas counties.” After spending a year at the Claremont
Graduate School in Rancho Santa Ana in California, and a summer at the
University of Oklahoma Biological Station, Massey studied with George Goodman
at the University of Oklahoma, and completed his Ph.D. in 1971 with his
dissertation “Pollination biology of Polygala
alba Nutt. (Polygalaceae).”
Massey was the Curator of the University of
North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) from 1971 to 2000 and Director of the
Herbarium from 1983 to 1990. He became
Curator at a time when the NCU Herbarium was piled high with decades of
un-mounted specimens, many collected for the Flora of the Carolinas Project,
which had culminated with the publication of the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas
in 1968. With Curatorial Assistant
Mary Felton and a team of students & volunteers, Massey processed and
filed hundreds of thousands of specimens.
In addition, during that era duplicate specimens that had been
collected for the Flora of the Carolinas Project were exchanged with herbaria
across the United States.
In addition to his curatorial duties,
Massey was an influential teacher at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill -- first in the Botany Department, then the Biology Department,
and finally at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. He taught many botany classes, including
Local Flora and Plant Taxonomy, as well as guiding and instructing dozens of
graduate students. In recognition of
his service to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Massey was
awarded the “Mentor Award for Lifetime Achievement” on February 4, 2006. This award “acknowledges a lifetime of
contributions to teaching and learning, particularly mentoring beyond the classroom. It rewards those who help students to
develop and attain their full potential during and after their departure from
Jimmy R. Massey, ca. 1974.
Photo courtesy of Helen Smith Massey.
Jim Massey skillfully shepherded the UNC
Herbarium’s transition from being part of the Biology Department of UNC-CH,
to being part of the North Carolina Botanical Garden in 2000. Massey’s efforts ensured that two state-funded
positions (Curator and Asst. Curator) would be transferred with the Herbarium
to the Botanical Garden. Jim Massey
and long-time Herbarium colleague Mary Felton retired in July, 2000. In recognition of Massey’s contributions to
the students of UNC-CH and to the North Carolina Botanical Garden, former
students and Garden staff created and presented “The One and Only Jimmy
Massey Award” to Massey at the retirement party at the Garden for Dr. Massey
and Mrs. Felton.
Jim Massey is the creative force behind The
Felton Herbarium Internship at the University of North Carolina
Herbarium. Hundreds of friends,
students, and colleagues honor Mrs. Felton’s years of service to the
Herbarium and University community by contributing to the endowed fund that
employs a student for a semester to learn the art & science of Herbarium curation. To
contribute to this on-going program in the Herbarium, please contact
Charlotte Jone-Roe, Associate Director for
Development at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, at (919) 962-9458.
After retiring from UNC-CH and the
Herbarium in 2000, Massey devoted his time and creative energies to Holly
Hill Daylily Farm in Chatham County, North Carolina. “What draws folks by
the hundreds out to Holly Hill in early June are the thousands of unique
lilies and crinums Massey has so carefully cultivated over the years. Many a garden around here has a Massey
original. His farm is a work of art as
well, with a unique assortment of garden art and unusual poultry. In addition to the blooms, the big
attraction at Holly Hill is Massey’s growing collection of folk art, housed
in the former Haywood post office, which was moved to the farm a few years
ago and refurbished… When you see the giant Elvis, you’re at the right
After more than thirty years of continuous
operation and offering Hemerocallis
and Crinum to the public, Holly
Hill Daylily Farm closed in July, 2011.
Massey is now devoting his creative talents to Haywood Gardens and
Folk Art Museum in greater metropolitan Moncure,
North Carolina. According to Kirk Ross
of the Carrboro Citizen, “Walking in the place [Haywood Gardens & Folk
Art Museum], the first thing that strikes you is, well, everything. It’s not a place of subtlety, at least at
first. Colors and patterns leap off
the walls. Angels are everywhere. There are, of course, things you’d expect
around here from such a museum – prints by the late Rev. Howard Finster, patron saint of the folk art universe; works by
regulars at the annual folk art show at Fearrington;
and Bynum’s own Clyde Jones (in this case, belted galloways
frolicking). But there’s more to
take in – from memory jugs embedded with mementos and everyday objects like
poker chips and marbles to Jimmie Lee Sudduth’s
plywood paintings done with mud and crushed flowers and plants. There are whirligigs by Vollis
Simpson and R.A. Miller; large, striking portraits – including one done in Finster-like fashion of Massey himself – by Big Chief;
and painted saws and other works by Eric “Preacherman”
Pace. As you might expect from a man
with 1,700 varieties of daylilies and who collected, catalogued and curated one of the largest herbarium in the South, once
he got into it, the art collection grew rapidly.”3
Jimmy Massey at
Holly Hill Daylily Farm, ca. 2011
Massey, J.R., K.K.S. Otte,
A.T. Atkinson, and D.R. Whetstone (1983) An atlas and illustrated guide to
the threatened and endangered vascular plants of the mountains of North
Carolina and Virginia. US Dept. of
Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, General
Technical Report SE-20, Asheville, NC.
Radford, A.E., D.K.S. Otte, L.J. Otte, J.R. Massey, P.D. Whitson (1981) Natural
heritage: Classification, inventory,
and information. University of North
Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, NC. (ISBN 0-8078-1463-6)
Massey, J.R. and Paul D. Whitson (1980) Species biology, the key to plant
Goodman, George J., Cheryl A. Lawson, and
Jimmy R. Massey (1978)
The Oklahoma botanical travels of G.W. Stevens. Proc. Okla. Acad. Sci. 58: 144-150.
Massey, J.R., D.K.S. Otte,
T.A. Atkinson and R.D. Whetstone (1983) An Atlas and Illustrated Guide to
the Threatened and Endangered Vascular Plants of the Mountains of North
Carolina and Virginia. Asheville,
NC: Southeastern Forest Experiment Station.
Massey, J.R. (1977) “Species biology: definitions, data and decisions,” IN
Conference of Endangered Plants in the Southeast Proceedings, U.S. Forest
Service General Technical Report SE-11.
Asheville, NC: Southeast Forest
Hardin, J.W. and J.R. Massey (1977) “Endangered plant
species of North Carolina,” IN Endangered and Threatened Plants and Animals
of North Carolina. Cooper, J.E, S.S.
Robinson, and &
J.B. Funderburg, eds. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State Museum of Natural
Massey, J.R., D.K.S. Otte,
and R.D. Whetstone (1977)
Laboratory guide for an introduction to plant taxonomy. Minneapolis: Burgess Pub. Co.
Boufford, D.E., and J.R. Massey (1976) Isopyrum biternatum
(Raf.) T. & G. (Ranunculaceae)
new to Virginia and its distribution east of the Appalachian Mountains. Rhodora 78: 790-791.
Massey, J.R. (1975) Fatoua villosa (Moraceae): additional notes on distribution in the
southeastern United States. Sida 6(2): 116.
Massey, J.R. (1974) The Herbarium: a modern hortus siccus.
North Carolina Wildflower
Preservation Society Newsletter.
Radford, A.E., W.C. Dickison,
J.R. Massey, and C.R. Bell (1974) Vascular Plant Systematics. New York:
Harper & Row.
Massey, Jimmy Ray (1971)
Pollination biology of Polygala
alba Nutt. (Polygalaceae). Ph.D. Thesis, University of Oklahoma,
also served on the editorial boards of the Flora of the Southeastern United
States and the Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society. He was a frequent reviewer for Harper &
Row, University of North Carolina Press, Brittonia,
Castanea, Rhodora, and
the World Book.
1. North Carolina Botanical Garden Newsletter (2006)
2. “Mill Works:
The Carrboro Citizen June 2, 2008. Carrboro, North Carolina.
3. Ross, Kirk (2007) A visit with the lily man. Carrboro Citizen, June 14, 1007. Carrboro, North Carolina.