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 Herbarium. 

Francis Peyre Porcher
F. P. Porcher
(14 December 1825 – 19 November 1895)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium has few specimens collected by Francis Peyre Porcher; all are from South Carolina.

According to the Harvard University Herbaria’s database of botanists, herbaria that hold F. P. Porcher’s material include Charleston Museum (CHARL), National Botanic Gardens, Dublin, Ireland (DBN), Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, Scotland (E), and United States National Arboretum (NA).  A search of in November, 2017 revealed that the University of South Carolina Herbarium (USCH) also curates some specimens collected by Francis Peyre Porcher.

Francis Peyre Porcher
Image courtesy of the Waring Historical Library,
Medical College of South Carolina


Rutkow, Ira M. (1991)  Francis Peyre Porcher.  Introduction to a reprint of Resources of the southern fields and forests, medical, economical, and agricultural / by Francis Peyre Porcher.  Originally published:  Charleston:  Evans & Cogswell, 1863.  San Francisco:  Norman Publishing.

Francis Peyre Porcher was born in St. John’s, Berkeley County, South Carolina, on December 14, 1825.  Among his paternal descendants were Isaac Porcher, a French Hugenot physician, who left France at the time of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) and eventually settled in South Carolina.  Porcher’s father William was also a physician, and his mother was Isabella Sarah Peyre.  One of his mother’s grandfathers was Thomas Walter, a well-known English botanist, who came to South Carolina during the eighteenth century and made a study of the plants in the region.

Porcher received his elementary, secondary, and college education in his native state.  He first attended Mount Zion Academy and then went to South Carolina College where he received his A. B. in 1844.  Three years later Porcher graduated from the Medical College of the State of South Carolina as valedictorian in a class of seventy-six.  His fifty-five-page thesis, “A Medico-Botanical Catalogue of the Plants and Ferns of St. John’s, Berkeley County, South Carolina” (Charleston:  Burges & James, 1847), would prove to be the forerunner and foundation of a remarkable series of pamphlets and books on similar subjects.  From fall 1847 through winter 1849, Porcher pursued post-graduate medical studies in Paris and Florence.

In 1849, Porcher returned to Charleston where he began to practice medicine.  That same year he presented a lengthy report at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association entitled “A Sketch of the Medical Botany of South Carolina” (Philadelphia:  T.K. & P.G. Collins, 1849).  Settling into practice, Porcher eventually joined with another physician, Belin Flagg, and established the Charleston Preparatory Medical School in 1852. 

Porcher continued his botanical studies and in 1854 presented another extensive report to the American Medical Association, which was entitled “The Medicinal, Poisonous, and Dietitic Properties of the Cryptogamic Plants of the United States” (New York:  Baker & Godwin, 1854). 

Porcher served in the Civil War from the beginning, first as surgeon to the Holcombe Legion until March 1862, then at the Naval Hospital in Norfolk, Virginia, and finally in the South Carolina Hospital at Petersburg, Virginia.  He was among the most well known of Confederate physicians.  Shortly after the hostilites [sic] commenced, he was asked by Surgeon-General Samuel P. Moore (1813-1889) to prepare a treatise on southern botany.  Porcher’s 594-page Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical and Agricultural; Being Also a Medical Botany of the Confederate States; with Practical Information of the Useful Properties of Trees, Plants, and Shrubs (Charleston:  Evans & Cogswell, 1863) was the culmination of the research that Porcher had started while in medical school and is considered among the most important medical works to be published in the Confederacy.  This book has been credited with maintaining the Southern war effort for many months longer than if it had not been written.  It was Moore’s hope that the volume would enable medical officers to supply many of their drug needs through the preparation of medicines from plants indigenous to the southern states.  The content proved so popular that southern newspapers published extract from the book to encourage the collection of plants and the preparation of botanical remedies.  It was considered of such value that a revised edition of 733-pages was issued in 1869.

Following the end of the war, Porcher returned to Charleston where he was on the staff of the City Hospital from 1866 to 1887.  He resumed his academic chairs and continued his prolific contributions to medical journals.  From 1873 to 1876, he again served as editor for the Charleston Medical Journal and Review.  Porcher was identified with a number of learned societies … he was a member of the Elliot Society of Natural History…

He was first married to Virginia Leigh of Richmond in 1885.  They had five children, one of whom became a physician.  Following Virginia’s death, Porcher married Margaret Ward of Georgetown, South Carolina.  They had four children.  Porcher suffered a paralytic cerebrovascular event in the fall of 1895.  He died on November 19 of that year and was interred in Charleston.



Carol Ann McCormick, Curator ;  phone +1 (919) 962-6931


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


Last Updated: 27 November 2017