Maeburn Bruce Huneycutt

(7 January 1923 – 20 December 2004)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium has cataloged to date about a dozen vascular plant specimens and a dozen fungal specimens collected by Maeburn Bruce Huneycutt, who usually signed his specimen labels as simply “Huneycutt”.

Huneycutt collected vascular plants in Georgia (the Okefenokee Swamp) with C. Ritchie Bell and in North Carolina along the Deep River in Lee and Randolph Counties with Al Radford.  As NCU’s vascular plant collection continues to be cataloged, it is probable that more specimens collected by him will be found.

Most of Huneycutt’s fungal specimens are from Orange County, North Carolina.  While he usually collected alone, there are a few specimens that he is listed as the co-collector with H.R. Totten and Josiah L. Lowe.  The macrofungi in NCU’s holdings, including those collected by Dr. Huneycutt, are being cataloged as part of the Macrofungal Collection Consortium project.

As Dr. Huneycutt spent his professional career at the University of Mississippi, most of his specimens can be found in the Thomas M. Pullen Herbarium (MISS).  “He was a complicated man—I found letters from students who had him as a professor many years ago.  They continued to write him and obviously had very deep affection for him,” says Lucile McCook, the current Curator of MISS.  Researchers and visitors to MISS remember Sir Henry, Huneycutt’s nippy Chihuahua.  “Huneycutt absolutely loved that little dog, just like he loved the Pullen Herbarium,” continues McCook.  “Huneycutt was responsible for starting the herbarium—as chair of Biology, he hired [Thomas M.] Pullen as a new faculty member with the specific job of initiating and building an herbarium and teaching botany.  After Pullen retired, Huneycutt was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and kept supporting the herbarium, and struck a deal when he retired to keep control of the herbarium.  So, Huneycutt created and protected the Pullen Herbarium through many years, as well as adding huge numbers of specimens himself.”6


Maeburn Bruce Huneycutt was born 7 January 1923 in Troy, Montgomery County, North Carolina to Sidney Lee and Gertrude Mae (Morton) Huneycutt.  He attended Pheiffer College in Misenheimer, North Carolina (a junior college at that time), then transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1944 and earned his B.A. in 1946.1, 4  He continued at UNC-Chapel Hill for his graduate studies in the Botany Department with Dr. John Nathaniel Couch, and earned an M.A. in 1949 (“Keratinophilic phycomycetes I.  A new genus of the Saprolegniaceae”) and Ph.D. in 1956 (“Studies on the morphology, taxonomy, and physiology of some lower aquatic phycomycetes, especially keratinophilic forms”).

He began his long career at the University of Mississippi in Oxford in 1955 when he was appointed assistant professor in the Biology Department.  He became a full professor in 1960, and served as the department chair from 1960-1969, and from 1969 – 1976 he was dean of the college of liberal arts at “Ole Miss.”1  Although officially retired from the University, Dr. Huneycutt became Curator of the Thomas M. Pullen Herbarium at the University of Mississippi (MISS) in 1985 and served in that capacity for a dozen years, adding 8,000 vascular plants to the Herbarium, particularly focusing on the flora of the Pontotoc Ridge.2

Maeburn B. Huneycutt was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at UNC-CH, and was recognized as an Outstanding Alumnus of Pheiffer College in 1974.

Dr. Huneycutt married Phillip “Phillie” van Zant, and together they had one child, Saralynn.4, 5

Maeburn Bruce Huneycutt died on 20 December 2004 at age 81 and is buried next to his daughter, Saralyn Huneycutt Stelle (1954-2005) in Uwharrie United Methodist Church Cemetery in Troy, North Carolina.3


Huneycutt, Maeburn B. (1948 ) Keratinophilic Phycomycetes.  I.  A new genus of the Saprolegniaceae.  M.A. Thesis, Botany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Huneycutt, Maeburn B. (1948 ) Keratinophilic Phycomycetes.  I.  A new genus of the Saprolegniaceae.  J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Society 64(2):  277-286.

Huneycutt, Maeburn B.  (1955)  Studies on the morphology, taxonomy and physiology of some lower aquatic Phycomycetes, especially keratinophilic forms.  Ph.D. Thesis, Botany, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Huneycutt, Maeburn B. (1952 )  A new water mold on keratinized materials.  J. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Society 68(1):  109-112

Watson, E. S., D.C. McClurkin and M. B. Huneycutt (1974)  Fungal succession on loblolly pine and upland hardwood foliage and litter in north Mississippi.  Ecology 55(5):  1128-1134.

Cooper, Cooper M., Maeburn B. Huneycutt, Sam Testa (2004)  Plants of the Coldwater River, Mississippi, U.S.A.:  Community records along the hydrologic gradient in the loess hills.  Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings, April 20, 2004.


  1. Obituary:  Maeburn Bruce Huneycutt.  Pugh Funeral Home.  accessed on 20 November 2013.
  2. Thomas M. Pullen Herbarium:  History.  accessed on 20 November 2013.
  3. Find a Grave Memorial # 42089897  accessed on 20 November 2013.
  4. Information for Alumni Directory, 1970.  Huneycutt, Maeburn Bruce.  University of North Carolina Alumni Records Office.
  5. Dope Sheet ’46 Yackety Yack Edition.  Huneycutt, Maeburn Bruce.  University of North Carolina Alumni Records Office.
  6. Personal communication, McCook to McCormick email 2020-10-02.