Hugo Leander Blomquist

(5 June 1888 – 28 November 1964)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged 97 vascular plant specimens, 29 bryophytes, and 2 fungi collected by Hugo Leander Blomquist.1  No doubt as cataloging continues, many more will be found in NCU’s collection.  He typically signed his labels as “H. L. Blomquist” or simply “HLB”. Most of the grasses and ferns collected for the publication of the 1968 Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas by Radford, Ahles, and Bell were identified by Dr. Blomquist.

The Duke University Herbarium (DUKE) holds his type material and ca. 10,000 herbarium specimens collected by him.1  The H.L. Blomquist Garden of Southeastern Native Plants is part of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, North Carolina.

“Hugo Leander Blomquist, Professor Emeritus of Botany at Duke University, died at his home in Durham, North Carolina on November 28, 1964.  He was born in Sorsele, Sweden, on June 5, 1885 [sic; June 5, 1888], but emigrated with his parents to Kulm, North Dakota, in 1892 when he was seven.  [Betty Blomquist Matthews, H.L.B.’s daughter, says that he was actually 4 years old when the family emigrated.]  He spent the remainder of his childhood on his parents’ farm where he developed a lifelong love for the soil and the out-of-doors.  He became a naturalized citizen in 1900 and, after completing his secondary education in the public schools of North Dakota, entered the University of Chicago.  He received the B.S. degree from that institution in 1916 and after a two-year interruption from 1912 to 1914 when he served as principal of the high school in Deering, North Dakota.  After a year of graduate work at the University of Chicago, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served as a musician first class during World War I from 1917 to 1919.  After the armistice, he remained in Paris for a number of months and studied biological chemistry at the Pasteur Institute.

Hugo Leander Blomquist, undated photograph courtesy of Duke University

Upon his return to the United States, he resumed graduate study in botany at the University of Chicago where he worked under the supervision of W.J.G. Land.  He received the Ph.D. degree in 1921.  At Chicago he came under the strong influence of the morphology tradition of that institution and his teachers included the noted botanists Coulter, Cowles, and Chamberlain upon whom he drew heavily throughout his professional life that was to follow.
In 1921 Dr. Blomquist came to Trinity College (later Duke University) as Assistant Professor of Biology.  In 1923 he was promoted to professor and in 1935, when the Department of Biology was divided into departments of botany and zoology, he became Chairman of Botany, a post that he held until 1953.  He became Emeritus Professor of Botany in 1957 but remained active and productive until a few years before his death.  In 1940-1941 Professor Blomquist was exchange Professor of Botany at the University of Puerto Rico…
Professor Blomquist’s taxonomic interests were exceptionally broad.  His researches included studies of every major group of plants except the fungi, yet he possessed a good field knowledge of the fleshy fungi and for many years taught bacteriology at Duke.  In addition to his bryological studies, he published on both freshwater and marine algae, and at the time that his health declined was at work on a manual of the marine algae of Puerto Rico.  He was the author of a book on the ferns of North Carolina and of another on the grasses of the state, both illustrated with his own drawings.  Other books included a Guide to the Spring and Early Summer Flora of the Piedmont of North Carolina written with H.J. Oosting – a well known flora that underwent six editions – a popular book entitled the Flowers of the South in collaboration with Wilhelmina F. Greene.  Always intrigued by the “difficult” plants, Professor Blomquist concentrated on such groups of vascular plants as grasses, sedges, rushes, Xyris, orchids, and composites.”2

Hugo Blomquist married Margaret Lane Mordecai (6 January 1896 – 2 October 1982) and together they had one daughter, Betty Blomquist.  Hugo and Margaret Blomquist are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina and the granite grave stone portrays Glade Fern, Homalosorus pycnocarpos.

According to Dr. Alan Weakley, Director of NCU , “Lewis Anderson described for me the Gray Card filing parties that used to occur (1940’s – 1960’s at least) when the Gray Card Index would issue a new set of cards. The UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke botanists would gather at UNC (where a shared installation was housed) and file away. Radford, Ahles, Bell, Blomquist, Oosting, probably Wilbur; maybe the NC State botanists were involved as well — Wells, Godfrey, and Fox (before his tragic death) in the 1950s. Andy said that Blomquist would chain-smoke, each cigarette held firmly between his lips as he filed, the ash getting longer and longer until it fell into the file card drawers. When I arrived at NCU in 2002 and we still had the physical Gray Card Index in the hallway in dark green drawers, I had to check whether this story was wholly apocryphal, but indeed, every drawer had a fine gray powder in the bottom…”

PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):

Blomquist, H. L. (1929)  The relation of capillary cavities in the Jungermanniaceae to water absorption and storage.  Ecology 10:  556-557.
Blomquist, H. L. (1930)  Archegonial plants of Tortula pagorum (Milde) De Not. In North Carolina.  The Bryologist 33(4):  41-43.
Blomquist, H. L. (1931)  Checklist of the common mosses of Durham, North Carolina.  Jour. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 46:  170-178.
Blomquist, H. L. (1931)  Genetics of mosses.  Journ. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc. 46:  267-275.
Blomquist, H. L. (1931)  Some Pteridophytes of North Carolina and their distribution.  Am. Fern J. 21 (3):  81-90.
Blomquist, H. L. (1934)  The American Welsh Polypody in North America.  Am. Fern J. 24 (1):  24-26.
Blomquist, H. L. (1934)  The North Carolina Academy of Science.  Science, New Series 79(2061):  592.
Blomquist, H. L.  (1934)  Ferns of North Carolina.  Durham, North Carolina:  Duke University Press. [with an introduction by Donald Culross Peattie.]
Blomquist, H. L. (1936)  Hepaticae of North Carolina.  The Bryologist 39(3):  49-67.
Blomquist, H. L. (1936)  The North Carolina Academy of Science.  Science, New Series 84(2166):  20.
Blomquist, H. L. (1937)  Hepaticae collected in the vicinity of Mountain Lake Biological Station, Va., 1934.  Claytonia 4:  6-9.
Blomquist, H. L. (1937)  Mosses of North Carolina I.  Sphagnales.  The Bryologist 40(4):  67-71.
Blomquist, H. L. (1937)  The North Carolina Academy of Science.  Science, New Series 85(2217):  607.

Blomquist, H. L. (1938)  Peat mosses of the southeastern States.  Jour. Elisha Mitchell Sci. Soc.  54:  1-21.
Blomquist, H. L. (1938)  The North Carolina Academy of Science.  Science, New Series 88(2272):  59-60.
Blomquist, H. L. (1939)  Grasses new to North Carolina.  Castanea 4 (4/5):  50-55.
Blomquist, H. L. (1939)  Notes on southern Hepaticae.  The Bryologist 42(2):  29-32.
Blomquist, H. L. (1939)  A new species of Plagiochila from the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The Bryologist  42 (5):  113-117.
Blomquist, H. L. (1939)  The North Carolina Academy of Science.  Science, New Series 90(2331):  212-213.

Blomquist, H. L. (1940)  Another new species of Plagiochila from the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The Bryologist 43(4):  89-95.
Blomquist, H. L. (1940)  Foray of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club at Highlands, N.C.  Castanea 5(7):  110.
Blomquist, H. L. and Lora Lee Robertson (1941)  The development of the peristome in Aulacomnium heterostichum.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 68(8):  569-584.
Blomquist, H. L. (1943)  Drifting “seaweed” at Beaufort, North Carolina.  Am. J. of Botany 30(1):  28-32.
Blomquist, H. L. (1945)  A new species of Hexastylis from North Carolina.  Castanea 10(3):  75-80.
Blomquist, H. L. (1945)  Development of reproductive structures in the brown alga Turbinaria turbinata.  Bot. Gazette 106(3):  290-304.
Williams, Louis G. and H. L. Blomquist (1947)  A collection of marine algae from Brazil.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 74(5):  383-397.
Blomquist, H. L. and H. J. Oosting (1948)  Guide to the Spring and Early Summer Flora of the Piedmont of  North Carolina.  Durham, North Carolina:  published by the authors.
Blomquist, H. L. (1948)  Asplenium monanthes in South Carolina.  Am. Fern J. 38(4):  171-176.
Blomquist, H. L. and Hollis J. Rogers (1951)  Sphagnum macrophyllum Bernh.  The Bryologist 54(2):  95-102.
Greene, Wilhelmina F. and Hugo L. Blomquist (1953)  Flowers of the South, Native and Exotic.  Chapel Hill North Carolina:  University of North Carolina Press.
Schuster, R. M. and H. L. Blomquist  (1955)  A comparative study of Telaranea nematodes.  Am. J. Bot. 42:  588-593.
Blomquist, H. L. (1957)  A revision of Hexastylis of North America.  Brittonia 8(4):  255-281.
Blomquist, H. L. (1960)  Fruiting specimens of Sphagnum portoricense.  The Bryologist 63:  225-229.



  1. SERNEC Data Portal. 2023. http// Accessed on December 04.
  2. Anderson, Lewis E. (1965)  In memoriam:  Hugo Leander Blomquist 1885 [sic]-1964.  The Bryologist 68(2):  251-254.  Stable URL: