James Heathman Horton

9 January 1931- 5 May 2017

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged over 300 vascular plant specimens collected by James Heathman Horton.  As we continue to catalog our collections more will be found.  Most were collected while he was a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and most are from North Carolina though other places in the Southeastern United States are also represented.  Western Carolina University Herbarium (WCUH) curates over 400 specimens collected by Horton while he was a faculty member in the Biology Department from 1961-1992.

In addition to NCU and WCUH, other herbaria which curate specimens collected by Horton include: Appalachian State University (BOON), Arizona State University (ASU), Auburn University Museum of Natural History (AUA), Brigham Young University (BRY), Campbell University (CAU), Delta State University (DSC), Georgia Southern University (GAS), Gray Herbarium of Harvard University (GH), Highlands Biological Station (HBSH), Indiana University (IND), Kent State University (KE), Louisiana State University (LSU), James F.Matthews Center for Biodiversity Studies (UNCC), Murray State University (MUR), New York Botanical Garden (NY), Florida Museum of Natural History (FLAS), University of Kansas (KANU), University of Mississippi (MISS), University of Southern Alabama (USAM), University of South Carolina (USCH), University of South Florida (USF), University of Southern Mississippi (USMS), University of Wisconsin (WIS), Valdosta State University (VSC).

James Heathman Horton was born in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina on 9 January 1931.  He completed high school in Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina and used that area for his later graduate studies in botany.  Horton earned his B.S. in 1952 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (1)

Horton married Jane Simmons in Bessemer City, Gaston County, North Carolina in 1954, and together they raised five children:  Mark Ormand, Jeb Thomason, Margaret Lane, William Heathman, and James Graham.(1)

Horton studied botany at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Dr. Albert Radford.  The title of his 1958 Masters thesis was “A vascular flora of Rowan County, North Carolina,” and his 1961 doctoral thesis was “A monograph of Delapyrum  Small, Dentoceras Small, Polygonella Michx. and Thysanella Gray (Polygonaceae).”(2)

Horton joined the faculty at Western Carolina University in 1961 and taught here until he retired in 1992.(1)  Fellow biology faculty member Dr. J. Dan Pittillo was a frequent co-collector.  Horton, Pittillo and Leo Collins founded the Cullowhee Native Plant Conference in 1984.(3)

Horton died at age 86 in Cullowhee, North Carolina on 5 May 2017. (1)

PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):
Horton, James H.  1958.  A vascular flora of Rowan County, North Carolina.  M.A. Thesis, Botany Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Horton, James H.  1961.  A monograph of the Delopyrum Small, Dentoceras Small, Polygonella Michx., and Thysanella Gray (Polygonaceae).  Ph.D. Thesis, Botany Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Horton, James H. 1963.  A taxonomic revision of Polygonella (Polygonaceae).  Brittonia 15(3):  177-203.
Wickland, Diane E. and J. H. Horton.  1977.  A botanical evaluation of the French Broad River corridor of North Carolina.  Report to the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Horton, J. H. and L. Hotaling.  1981.  Floristics of selected heath communities along the southern section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. National Park Service Research/ Resources Management Report No. 45.

1.  Obituary:  James Heathman Horton. Asheville Citizen – Times; Asheville, N.C.  May 20, 2017.
2.  Kilfoil, Jessica, William R. Burk, and Elizabeth A. Appleton.  2008.  Couch Biology Library:  Botany Theses and Dissertations.  A list of dissertations and graduate theses in botany completed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1912-2005.
3.  History of Conference.  https://www.wcu.edu/engage/professional-enrichment/conferences-and-community-classes/the-cullowhee-native-plant-conference/history-of-conference.aspx  accessed on 9 April 2020.