Herbário da Universidade de Coimbra

Adolpho Frederico Möller


Adolpho Frederico Möller (born 1842 Lisbon – died, 1920 Lisbon). Son of German parents living in Portugal, Adolpho Möller departed to Germany in 1857 to study forestry for three years. Back to Portugal he was employed by the Portuguese government in various related jobs and became noticed for his excellent performance. He was responsible for the major re-forestation throughout the country at the time and developed major tree nurseries in Coimbra. When he was in charge of the Forestry Section for the major works that involved the change of river bed of the Mondego, the river that crosses Coimbra (1866-73), the University requested his services to the Home Office. On the 1st January 1874, a year after Júlio Henriques, the founder of the present herbarium (COI), became Professor of Botany and Director of the Botanic Garden, Adolpho Möller was appointed Inspector for the Botanic Garden. He remained in this post till retirement.

Möller’s contribution to the expansion and scientific quality of the Botanic Garden was fundamental, very much so to its role in promoting agriculture in the colonies, such as the cultivation of Cinchona calisaya for the production of quinine. He also made a substantial contribution to the herbarium.

Möller collected much in the Coimbra district, an area floristically quite rich, and other areas of Portugal. The interest on Cryptogams was developing in Europe at that time and Möller became kin in mosses and fungi, enriching the herbarium with many specimens. In 1885, he carried out an expedition of four months to the then colony of São Tomé and Príncipe. Although short, the expedition was rich in materials collected: for the herbarium 735 species, 249 animal species, minerals and local artefacts. The descriptive catalogue of the expedition was on show at the Insular and Colonial Portuguese Exhibition that celebrated the 5th anniversary of the birth of Henri the Navigator, in 1896.

His main collection remains at COI. Duplicates of Möller’s herbarium specimens were sent by Júlio Henriques to other European institutes, e.g. Schultz Herbarium Normale. A collection of medicinal plants, Herbário Médico do Gabinete de Matéria Médica, was offered to the Faculty of Medicine of Coimbra. A number of his specimens are types and some taxa were dedicated to him (e.g. Mezierea molleri DC., Lobelia molleri Henriq., Polypodium molleri Baker ex Henriq.)

Möller collaborated on the research on phenology of H. Hoffmann (Giessen) with observations at the Coimbra Botanica Garden published in the Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, 1st series, vols 13, 18, 20-27 and the Phänologische Beosbachtungen. Möller wrote for many Portuguese magazines, divulging and informing in botany, medicinal plants, horticulture and forestry, also in the Berichten der Deutschen Pharmaceutischen Gesellschaft (Berlin) and Der Tropenfflanzen. Most of his scientific publications were in the publications of the Sociedade Broteriana (Coimbra). He also wrote the Catalogo das plantas medicinaes que habitam o continente portuguez published by the University of Coimbra and seminal works on the useful plants of equatorial Africa (São Tomé).