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,
Curator of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium

Charles Bagge Plowright, Esq.
(3 April 1849 – 24 April 1910)1


The University of North Carolina Herbarium has catalogued about a two dozen fungi collected by C. B. Plowright. Most were collected around Lynn (also known as King’s Lynn or Bishop’s Lynn) a town in Norfolk (52.7543 latitude, 0.3976 longitude), Plowright’s birthplace.1, 2  As more of our micro-fungi are cataloged, more specimens collected by Plowright will likely be found.  Most of Plowright’s specimens at NCU are part of John Edward Vize’s exsiccati “MICRO-FUNGI BRITANNICI” and the exsiccatiRabenhorst, Fungi europaei.”  Plowright also contributed specimens to the exsiccati “Herbarium Mycologicum Oeconomicum, F.K.A.E.J. De Thumen” and to “Mycotheca Universalis, F.K.A.E.J. De Thueman.” 


Specimen collected by C. B. Plowright, Esq.
It is No. 451 of the exsiccati “Micro-Fungi Britannici

All NCU’s mycological specimens, including those collected by Charles Bagge Plowright, can be searched at 

Other herbaria in North America holding Plowright’s specimens include BPI (United States National Fungus Collections), CHRB (Rutgers University), CUP (Cornell University), F (Field Museum), FH (Farlow Herbarium of Harvard University), ISC (Iowa State University), NY (New York Botanical Garden), NYS, (New York State Museum), PH (Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University), PUR & PUL (Purdue University), UC (University of California Berkeley), ILL (University of Illinois), MSC (Michigan State University), MICH (University of Michigan), MIN (University of Minnesota), NEB (University of Nebraska State Museum), WIS (University of Wisconsin, Madison) and WSP (Washington State University).

Charles Bagge Plowright1

The following is from the Australia Postal History & Social Philately website

Charles Bagge Plowright was born at King’s Lynn on 3 April 1849, and was apprenticed to Dr. John Lowe, Surgeon-Apothecary to the Prince of Wales and Surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital. Plowright became a pupil of that institution in 1868 and afterwards he studied at Anderson’s College in Glasgow, and was a dresser under Professor Lister, who then was introducing the antiseptic system of treatment at the Royal Infirmary. Plowright took the diplomas of M.R.C.S. of England, and the L.R.C.P. of Edinburgh in 1870. After serving as house surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital, he settled in practice at King’s Lynn. He was appointed Medical Officer of Health for the Freebridge Lynn Rural District over 30 years ago, and in this capacity he did much excellent work: his reports were admirable, complete and suggestive. He was Surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital for many years, and was appointed Consulting Surgeon on ceasing to serve on the active staff. He was a magistrate for the borough of Lynn, and took a keen interest in education, being at one time a member of the Lynn Technical Education Committee, and a director, afterwards vice-chairman, of the Girls’ High School, as well as governor of the Lynn Grammar School. He had a high reputation as a skilful and careful surgeon, and had an extensive practice throughout West Norfolk, from which he only retired a few weeks ago.

It was however as an authority on fungi that he was best known; his reputation on this subject was, indeed, European. He was a corresponding member of the Italian Cryptological and of the French Mycological Societies, as well as the Scottish Cryptological Society. He began the study of the subject as a boy of 14 or 15 years, and whilst still house surgeon published a treatise on Sphaericacei Britannici. At various times he contributed numerous papers on his favorite subject in the botanical and the medical press. From 1890 to 1894 he was Professor of Comparative Anatomy in the Royal College of Surgeons, and a report of his courses of lectures on the action of fungi on the human body was published in the British Medical Journal in 1893.

Plowright began by working on British field fungi, and in 1872 contributed to a list of 500 Norfolk fungi to the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society, of which he was subsequently President. Later on he studied the parasitic fungi producing disease in plants, a subject upon which he became an acknowledged authority. In 1891 he was the first to advocate the use in this country of Bordeaux Mixture against potato, then used extensively in France of mildew on vines and tomatoes. He was also much interested in archeology, and wrote papers on neolithic man in West Norfolk, on native dye plants used by our ancestors, on the archeology of woad and the process by which its blue colour was extracted, and the origin of the apothecaries’ symbols for the scruple, drachm and ounce. He made an interesting collection of neolithic and paleolithic implements, which he presented to the Lynn Museum.

A thoroughly competent and skilful practitioner of medicine, he brought to the study of his favourite department of science, a department that touches animal pathology at many points, the all important qualities of perseverance, exactness and insight. Dr. Plowright leaves a widow, a son who is now surgeon to the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital, and a daughter who is the wife of Mr. T. Petch, mycologist to the Government of Ceylon. The funeral took place on April 27, 1910 at North Wooton Parish Churchyard.

This obituary was extracted from the British Medical Journal 7 May 1910 on pages 1149-1150, and a different and warm approach to Dr. Plowright was found written by his great grandson Dr. M C. Petch, a cardiologist at Cambridge, U.K. who described him as a Victorian Polymath (a person learned in many fields). I have directly extracted the following from his paper in the BMJ 18 April 1998 page 1221:

"His absorption in natural history provided a perfect counterbalance for his busy professional life, as when his diaries record the finding of new botanical species at the height of the outbreak of enteric fever. Most of his publications were concerned with the study of fungi. His lectures to the Royal College of Surgeons on ergot (BMJ 1892;i:500-1) and the action of fungi on the human body (BMJ 1893;i:304) were delivered when he was president of the British Mycological Society. His wide ranging interests also included Neolithic man in West Norfolk, and woad as a blue dye, both subjects of presentations to the Norfolk Naturalists Society and reprinted in their transactions (April 1881 and April 1900)."

"He was primarily a general practitioner, with additional roles as medical officer, physician, surgeon, and naturalist. In each role his diagnostic skills depended on a "seeing eye" and an inquiring mind; his writings demanded a descriptive and analytical talent; he recognised that the discipline of communicating his observations and thoughts to others enhanced his own pleasure and understanding. His life shows that a multiplicity of interests with cross fertilisation of ideas is a recipe for long lasting intellectual vigour."

"Like other Victorian polymaths, his personal life does not emerge in his writings, but he was both purchaser and provider of health care services, and I wonder how he managed. He was never rich, but when he decided to retire he doubled his fees, which he sent out at the end of each year. This had no effect on his practice so the following year he doubled them again, following which he was able to devote more time to his hobbies."

PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):
Drysdale, C. R., Charles J. Power, Mr. Walsh, M. B. Shirley, C. B. Plowright, and S. H. Lindeman (1883)  Reports of hospital and surgical practice in the hospitals and asylums of Great Britain and Ireland.  British Medical Journal 2(1198):  1190-1191.
Plowright, Charles B. (1883-1884)  Mahonia aquifolia as a nurse of the wheat mildew (Puccinia graminis).  Proc. of the Royal Society of London 36:  1-3.
Plowright, Charles B. (1883-1884)  On the life history of the Dock Aecidium (Aecidium rumicis, Schlecht.)  Proc. of the Royal Society of London 36:  47-50.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884)  Note on Aecidium bellidis.  Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(3):  32.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884)  Aecidium bellidis.  Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(6):  64-65.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884)  Aecidium jacobeae.  Bull. Torrey Botanical Club 11(8):  93-94.
Plowright, Charles B. (1884)  The fungi of Norfolk.  Wertheimer, Lee and Co.
Plowright, Charles B. (1885)  On the distribution of calculous disease in Norfolk.  British Medical Journal 2(1297):  863.
Plowright, Charles B. (1886)  Some remarks upon ergot.  British Medical Journal 1(1309):  197-198.
Plowright, Charles B. (1889)  A Monograph of the British Uredineae and Ustilagineae.  With an Account of Their Biology Including the Methods of Observing the Germination of Their Spores and of Their Experimental Culture. Illustrated with woodcuts and eight plates.  London.  Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1 Paternoster Square.
Plowright, Chares B. (1889)  New parasitic fungi.  Gard. Chron., Nov. 2, 1889, p. 506.
Plowright, Charles B.  (1891)  New British fungus.  Gard. Chron., Sept. 26th, 1891, p. 374. 
Plowright, C. B. (1892)  Abstract of a lecture on ergot.  British Medical Journal 1(1627):  500-501.
Plowright, C. B. (1893)  Experimental researches on the life history of certain Uredineae.  Grevillea, June 1893, pp. 109-110.
Plowright, C. B. (1893)  Abstract of three lectures on the action of fungi on the human body.  British Medical Journal 1(1676):  304.
Plowright, Charles B. (1894)  The fungus kingdom.  Phycomycetes; Ascomycetes; Basiomycetes; Hymenomycetes.  British Medical Journal 1(1730):  404-405.
Plowright, Charles B. (1896)  On an epidemic of jaundice in King’s Lynn, 1895.British Medical Journal 1(1848):  1321.
Plowright, C. B. (1898)  On the epidemic of enteric fever at King’s Lynn, October, 1897.  An analysis of 50 cases.  British Medical Journal 1(1942):  770-772.
Plowright, Charles B. (1904)  Notes on the distribution of cancer in the Freebrdige Lynn Rural District.  British Medical Journal 1(2245):  72.
Plowright, Charles B. (1905)  Remarks on poisoning by fungi:  Amanita phalloides.  British Medical Journal 2 (2332):  541-542.
Plowright, Charles B. (1905)  Eriksson’s recent researches on the vegetative life of the Cereal Rust.  The British Mycological Society:  Transactions 2(3):  76-79.
Plowright, Charles B. and W. Thomson (?date?)  On the life-history of the Aecidium on Paris quadrifolia.  Journal of Linn. Soc., Bot., No. 205, vo. 30, pp. 43-44.


1.  “Charles Bagge Plowright” Wikipedia, accessed on 26 May 2016.
2.  “Charles Bagge Plowright M.D.:  A Victorian Polymath, accessed on 26 May 2016.
3.  “King’s Lynn  Wikipedia, accessed on 26 May 2016.




University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
120 South Road
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931

Last Updated: 22 December 2017