The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Herbarium has catalogued about a dozen fungal specimens collected by
Frederick Adolph Wolf.
The operculate discomycete genus, Wolfina, was named in his
Wolf’s specimens are widely distributed, and
can be found in the following herbaria:
DUKE, NCU, BISH, CUP, F, FH, ISC, MU, NY, NCSLG, PUR, PUL, SYRF, BPI, UBC,
UC, FLAS, GAM, MICH, NEB, WIS, RMS, CFMR, and WSP. Dr. Wolf’s papers are
curated by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library of Duke
The following remembrance, written by
Frederick T. Wolf, appeared in the journal Phytopathology, Volume 66(3):
238 in 1976. A slightly
expanded version, also by Frederick T. Wolf, appeared in Mycologia 68(2): 229-232, also in 1976.
Frederick A. Wolf died in his home in Durham,,
North Carolina, on November 7, 1975. Son of August and Wilhelmina (Knacht) Wolf, he was born in Odell, Nebraska, on June 25,
1885. Upon graduation from high school,
he taught high school for a year, in order to earn money with which to attend
college. He graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1907, and obtained
his Masters degree there in 1908. He did graduate
work at the University of Texas for two years, under the guidance of F. D. Heald, and obtained the doctorate for from Cornell
University in 1911. His dissertation dealt with the development of the
perfect stage of the fungus Diplocarpon rosae.
From 1911 to 1915 he served as plant
pathologist with the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station, Auburn,
Alabama. He married Wynette Taylor, of Montgomery, Alabama, in 1914. In 1915,
he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where he was a plant pathologist with
the Agricultural Experiment Station at N.C. State College for ten years,
except during World War I. As a First
Lieutenant in the Sanitary Corps, U.S. Army, he was assigned to
bacteriological laboratory work in the hospital of Camp Greene, near
he became interested in diseases of tobacco, and maintained
that interest for the remainder of his life. With A. C. Foster, he described
the organism of tobacco wildfire, Bacterium
tabacum. Studies of Granville wilt, bacterial
leaf spot, and of diseases of soybeans were made during this period. From
1925 to 1927 he was a plant pathologist with the U.S. Department Of
Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry laboratory in Orlando, Florida, where
he worked primarily with diseases of citrus.
In 1927, he became professor of botany at Duke
University, Durham, N.C., a position he occupied for 27 years. For a number
of years his primary research interest was centered on the downy mildew or
“blue mold” disease of tobacco caused by
a pathogen which caused large losses in this crop during the early 30s. These
studies included the use of volatile fungicides for control of the disease in
He spent the year 1933-34 on sabbatic leave at Harvard University. The first edition of his book, Tobacco Diseases and Decays, appeared
in 1935, and he was co-author of Fungi
of the Duke Forest , which was published in
1938. During World War II, he was engaged in an investigation for the War
Production Board of the possibilities of obtaining agar from seaweeds along
the Atlantic coast. His two-volume
textbook of mycology appeared in 1947.
In that year he again took a sabbatic leave,
working for the Ministry of Agriculture in Venezuela to improve the tobacco
cultivation practices in that country. He was invited to return 10 years
later, and was shown how his recommendation had borne fruit. He made a brief trip to Colombia with the
same general objective.
His classes included mycology, bacteriology,
and forest pathology. Some 30 students obtained graduate degrees under his
direction during his years at Duke. He was made a James B. Duke professor
several years before his obligatory retirement in 1954.
Retirement from teaching gave him additional
freedom for research. A second revised edition of the book, Tobacco Diseases and Decays, was
published in 1957. For several years he was involved in efforts to grow
Turkish or aromatic tobacco in this country, a project which was
scientifically successful, but economically impractical. In 1959, he made a
trip to Greece, the Dodecanese Islands, and Turkey, in preparation for
writing his book, Aromatic or Oriental
Tobaccos, which was published in 1962. In 1963, he participated in the
Third Tobacco Congress in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
During his latter
years, he studied cores obtained from Lake sediments in East Africa, examining
them for fungus spores thousands of years old. This required only a
microscope, and could be carried on intermittently, as time and inclination
permitted. He was active in research until a year prior to his death.
Dr. Wolf was a member of a number of professional
societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science,
the Botanical Society of America, the Mycological Society of America, the
American Phytopathological Society, the Torrey
Botanical Club, the British Mycological Society, and the North Carolina
Academy of Science. He was a charter
member of both the American Phytopathological
Society and the Mycological Society of America, and had served as president
of the North Carolina Academy of Science.
In 1965, he was recipient of the North Carolina Gold-Medal, presented
by the Governor, for devoting “a great measure of his scientific talents and
gifts” to research. He is survived by his wife of over 61 years, a daughter,
a son, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
A list of his publications may be obtained
from the Department of Botany, Duke University, Durham, NC 27706.