The North Carolina Botanical Garden recently honored Larry Mellichamp ’70, retired director of the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens, as only the seventh recipient of its Flora Caroliniana Award.
Mellichamp, a professor emeritus in the Biology Department, retired in 2014 after nearly four decades directing the development of the University’s Botanical Gardens. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at UNC Charlotte in 1970 and a doctorate in botany from the University of Michigan before joining the University faculty in 1976.
The North Carolina Botanical Garden Flora Caroliniana Award is bestowed upon individuals in recognition of their enthusiasm and service to the preservation, restoration and appreciation of the natural world.
Surrounded by family, friends and colleagues, Mellichamp received the award in a late April ceremony in the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens’ Mellichamp Native Terrace, designed to help people learn to use native plants in home landscapes.
Former colleague Paula Gross, in a moving tribute, said, “I had the honor and adventure of working with Larry for 18 years here at the UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens and co-authoring two books together. I’m so pleased to be standing here in a garden co-created with Larry, Ed Davis, Johnny Massengale and the entire staff, donors and volunteer community of the Botanical Gardens. A place nourishing to body, mind and spirit, bearing a very special name — Mellichamp.”
Mellichamp is an expert on native wildflowers, trees, shrubs and carnivorous plants, particularly Sarracenia pitcher plants. He has written technical and layperson articles on plants and gardening, given hundreds of talks, taught thousands of students and community members and written books that serve novice and advanced gardeners, including probably the best known, “Native Plants of the Southeast.”
Johnny Randall, director of conservation programs, North Carolina Botanical Garden, and Alan Weakley, director of the UNC Herbarium, presented the award to Mellichamp.
Previous Flora Caroliniana Award recipients are:
- Lady Bird Johnson for advocating for native plants and helping the North Carolina Botanical Garden launch its first fundraising campaign, “Celebrating Wildflowers.” (1988)
- John Terres, naturalist and author best known for his work, “From Laurel Hill to Siler’s Bog: The Walking Adventures of a Naturalist.” (1991)
- William Lanier Hunt, founder of the Botanical Garden Foundation. (1996)
- Ritchie Bell, the North Carolina Botanical Garden’s first director from 1961 to 1986. (2000)
- Thomas Wright Earnhardt in recognition of his lifelong contributions to conservation. (2016)
- Charlotte Jones Roe for 44 years of service in advocating for the North Carolina Botanical Garden. (2018)