Paul Wilson Titman

(30 August 1920 – 18 May 2000)

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has catalogued 17 vascular plant specimens and 8 fungal specimens collected by Paul W. Titman. As cataloging continues it is very likely that more specimens collected by him will be found. A frequent co-collector was fellow Tar Heel Ernest Gibbes Patton, who also went on to teach botany. All NCU’s fungi can be searched at; our vascular plant specimens from the Southeastern United States can be searched at

Paul Wilson Titman’s parents were Paul Abram Titman, a depot agent for the Southern Railroad, and Mary Elsie Wilson Titman. He grew up in Lowell, Gaston County, North Carolina.1 In 1940 Titman was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lived at 108 Hillsboro [Hillsborough] Street in Chapel Hill.2

Paul Wilson Titman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1940 Yearbook

I went to Chapel Hill and began to work in the atelier of the art department under the leadership of Russell Train Smith, the chairman of the department. One of the requirements was that one take a general botany course in the education spread. I was happy to do so because of my lifelong interest in plants… I still remember the first day of class, when a very distinguished, slim, elegant, white-haired, rosy-faced man, with a clipped white moustache came in and in a deep South Carolina accent introduced himself as William Chambers Coker. He also announced that this was the last time he was going to be teaching the introductory course. I soon found that his approach to life mirrored my own aspirations. To put it into terms of my present perspective, he regarded botany as an humanity, a manifestation in the middle of all kinds of thought processes… He [the art advisor] went to Boston and I went to Botany.6

Paul Wilson Titman’s Draft Registration Card, ca. 1941 (2)

Titman earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1941, then enlisted in the United States Army in October, 1942.   He served in Military Intelligence, and was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.3, 4

Titman returned to UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a Masters degree in Botany under Dr. J. E. Adams in 1948; the title of his thesis was “Studies in the woody anatomy of the family Nyssaceae.” In 1953 Titman earned a Ph.D. in botany from Harvard University; the title of his doctoral thesis was “Studies of long and short shoot growth in Cercidiphyllum.” Cercidiphyllum is the sole genus in the family Cercidiphyllaceae, and there are only two species, both commonly called “katsura.” The foliage of Cercidiphyllum japonicum and Cercidiphyllum magnificum resemble redbud, Cercis, to which they are unrelated.5

Titman joined the faculty of Chicago Teacher’s College, which later became Chicago State University, in 1955.

Paul W. Titman died on May 18, 2000 in Chicago. He is buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Lowell, North Carolina.4

Paul Wilson Titman’s gravestone in Edgewood Cemetery, Gaston County, North Carolina (4)

Partial List of Publications:
Titman, Paul W. and Ralph H. Wetmore. 1955. The growth of long and short shoots of Cercidiphyllum. American Journal of Botany 42(4): 364-372.
Titman, Paul W. 1953. Studies of long and short shoot growth in Cercidiphyllum. Ph.D. Thesis, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Titman, Paul W. 1949. Studies in the woody anatomy of the family Nyssaceae. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 65(2):   245-261.
Titman, Paul W. 1948. Studies in the woody anatomy of the family Nyssaceae. M.A. Thesis, Botany Department. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1. Year:   1940; Census Place: Lowell, Gaston, North Carolina; Roll:   T627_2915; Page: 16A; Enumeration District: 36-55. 1940 United States Federal Census [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc. 2012.
2. The National Archives at Atlanta, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina World War II Draft Registration Cards; Record Group:   Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975, RG 147; Box: 369.   U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database online]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
3. Pers. comm., Nicole Wallace, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Alumni Records. 6 September 2017.
4. Find a Grave accessed on 6 September 2017.
5. “Cercidiphyllum.” Wikipedia. accessed on 6 September 2017.
6. Joslin, Mary Coker. 2003.   Essays on William Chambers Coker, Passionate Botanist. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library and Botanical Garden Foundation, Inc.   Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Pages 119-120.