Karl M. Wiegand

(1873 - 1942)

Karl McKay Wiegand was one of the foremost authorities on taxonomy in the world.  His leadership of the Department of Botany at Cornell University for nearly 30 years earned the department the highest reputation. 

Karl M. Wiegand was born on June 2, 1873 in Truxton, New York.  He attended Cornell University and graduated with a B.S. in botany in 1894.   He received his doctorate in 1898, also from Cornell.  Wiegand remained at Cornell as an instructor until 1907, when he was offered an associate professor of botany position at Wellesley College.  Through the efforts of L. H. Bailey, a new Department of Botany was formed in 1913 at Cornell in the College of Agriculture.   Wiegand returned to Cornell to head this newly formed department, which would eventually absorb the Department of Botany in the College of Arts and Sciences.  He would remain head of the department for 28 years until his retirement.

In spite of his administrative duties, Wiegand found time to teach courses in taxonomy, and offered his help in resolving many requests for plant identification from across the country.  He continued his research of taxonomy and ultimately produced in 1925 The Flora of the Cayuga Lake Basin, co-authored with Arthur J. Eames.  This was one of a hundred papers that Wiegand wrote during his career.

While pursuing his taxonomic research, Wiegand took a relatively minor herbarium at Cornell and built it into a sizable collection of nearly 250,000 specimens - a phenomenal feat when you consider that his administrative and teaching duties took most his time.


For further information please see:

Obituary.  1942.  Karl M. Wiegand, Science (May), pp. 449.

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