Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium

Henry Roland Totten

Henry Roland Totten was born in Matthews, North Carolina on November 6, 1892. He graduated from the Yadkin Collegiate Institute in 1909 and received his A.B. degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1913. The title of his Masters thesis (1914) was “I. Development of the seed in Mayaca aubleti; II.  Developemnt of the seed in the cleistogamic flower of Specularia perfoliata.”  Totten studied fungi for his Doctoral thesis (1923), “Description, life history, and mycorrhizal character of Rhizopogon parasiticus Coker & Totten n. sp.” Upon completed his graduate work under Dr. William Chambers Coker at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Totten promptly joined the Botany Department as a faculty member, teaching general botany, dendrology, pharmacognosy, and plant taxonomy.

His name is especially associated for most people with the woody flora of the southeastern United States, and his book on this topic (co-authored with Dr. Coker) is still an excellent guide to the trees in our area.

Dr. Totten also wrote the section on the Fagaceae (the oak and beech family) for the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas, a challenging job in our oak-rich region.

Portrait of Henry Roland Totten

A hybrid oak, Quercus x totteni, was named in his honor by Lionel Melvin; a specimen currently grows near the front entrance to the Totten Center at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. Dr. Totten was instrumental in founding the garden and also served as director of the Coker Arboretum. He died in Chapel Hill on February 9, 1974, only three weeks after the death of his wife, Addie.

Quercus x totteni Melvin
Photograph by Arleigh Birchler, 2014

Reliquiae Totteniana

Two samples of Dr. Totten's handwriting are below. One is a letter from Dr. Totten to Alma Holland Beers, a research assistant in the Botany department. The other sample is a page from one of Totten's field notebooks, noting collections of some trees from UNC campus. Both may be clicked upon to view a larger image.


Totten's handwriting sample     Totten's handwriting sample


The manuscript materials on this page are from the archives of the Herbarium at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and are used with permission.

Further materials are located in the Coker papers in the Southern Historical Collection, Manuscript Department, Wilson Library, and in the papers of the UNC Botany Department.

A bibliography of Totten's theses and publications has been assembled by Rhonda Teague Rogers and emended by William R. Burk. The best published source of biographical information on Totten is a memorial piece which appeared in the Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, vol. 89, pp. 262-263.

This page was constructed by Ron Gilmour with the assistance of Mr. Bill Burk, Mrs. Mary Felton,
Dr. Jim Massey, and Mr. Jim Murphy.

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


Last Updated: 2 April 2019