Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Compiled by Carol Ann McCormick
using information supplied by Dr. Piotr Köhler,
Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland
and by Dr. Andrzej Chlebicki, Curator of Fungi, Polish Academy of Sciences (KRAM),
Kraków, Poland

Maria Skirmunt Twardowska

(1858 – 15 November 1907)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) has catalogued 23 specimens collected by Maria Twardowska and as cataloging continues it is likely that more will be found.  All of Madame Twardowska’s specimens have been found in NCU’s “Seymour Collection” of micro-fungi.  NCU’s fungal collection – both micro-fungi and macro-fungi – are in a searchable online database at .  


Arthur Bliss Seymour (1859-1933) was a mycologist who specialized in parasitic fungi, and it seems likely that Madame Twardowska sent her specimens to Seymour for identification/confirmation.  Most of the labels have “Coll. Marie [sic] Twardowska” stamped on them, though it is unclear whether Madame Twardowska applied this or if it was added by Arthur Bliss Seymour. 


The Seymour Collection was sent to Dr. William Chambers Coker at NCU by Frank Conkling Seymour, Arthur Bliss Seymour’s son, perhaps upon the death of his father in 1933.  As Dr. Coker died in 1953, it is likely that the Seymour Collection was received at NCU between 1933 and 1953.   


The only other Herbarium in the United States which has cataloged specimens collected by Maria Twardowska is the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois (F).


According to Dr. Piotr Köhler, Professor at Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland, Maria Twardowska (neé Skirmunt) was born in Szemetowszczyzna (latitude 54.818836, longitude 26.565297) near Święciany and the Narocz Lake.  In 1858 this area was called Vilna Gubernya and was part of Russia; it is now part of Belarus.  She graduated from the Adrian Braniecki Higher Courses for Women in Kraków.  After marriage she lived and collected many specimens in Weleśnica (latitude 52.263611, longitude 25.896944), near Pińsk, which was at that time part of Russia but is now part of Belarus.1, 4 


On several specimens in NCU’s collection, Arthur Bliss Seymour and/or Franklin Sumner Earle had added their own labels with the collecting locality as “Pinsk, Western Russia” or “Poland,” as Twardowska’s handwriting is difficult to interpret. 


According to Köhler, in addition to Weleśnica, Twardowska frequently botanized near her hometown of Szemetowszczyzna and around Świteź Lake in present-day Belarus.  She published at least thirteen papers on vascular plants, one on Myxomycetes (slime molds), and three on Eurasian beavers (Castor fiber L.).  Madame Twardowska was a member of the Physiographical Commission of the Academy of Sciences and Letters in Kraków.1


She donated her herbarium to the Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przjaciół Nauk, the Poznań Society of Friends of Science.1  When founded in [1857], the Poznań Society was the chief Polish scientific and cultural organization in Prussian Poland… In 1919 the Poznań Society initiated the founding of Poznań University.”2  Since 1955 Poznań University has been known as Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.3 


Maria Skirmunt Twardowska died in Weleśnica on 15 November 1907.1





1.  Piotr Köhler, pers. comm.  Email to McCormick on 28 March 2016.

2.  Poznan Society of Friends of Learning.  Wikipedia accessed on 28 March 2016.

3.  Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.  Wikipedia accessed on 28 March 2016.  

4.  Andrzej Chlebicki, pers. comm.  Email to McCormick on 5 August 2014. 






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


Last Updated: 28 March 2016