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Möller, Adolfo Frederico 1842-1920

Adolpho Frederico Möller, son of Henrique Möller and of Sofia Lindenberg, was born on 31st of October 1842, in Lisbon (Portugal). He attended both primary and High school in Lisbon at the Luso-Britanico and German Colleges. In 1857, he went to Germany where he did a course in Practical Sylviculture, which he completed with distinction. Upon his return to Portugal, on the 4th October 1860, he was nominated to work as sylviculturist in the General Administration of the Kingdom Forests. In 1862 he was called upon to serve in the Administration of the “Machada and Vale do Zebro” National Pine Forests, becoming tenured in 1863. In 1864, with the creation of the Order of Civil Engineering, he was appointed, by Decree of 28 December, to the auxiliary board, and on the 3rd of June 1865, he was sent to serve in the Board of the Public Works of Coimbra, where he remained until the 3rd August 1866.

From the 4th of August 1866 to 31st December 1873, he led the Forest Department of the Board to manage the Works of the Mondego. His rare qualities of character and methodical untiring worker did not go unnoticed. At the request of the Faculty of Philosophy, the Rector of the University of Coimbra, Viscount of Vila Maior, asked the Minister of Public works to employ Adolpho Möller in the Botanical Gardens of the University. On the 1st of January 1874, he was temporarily named Inspector of the Botanical Gardens. The task he performed as the leader of the Practical Works of the Garden was determinant for the growth of the Botanical Gardens as an institution and the role he played in the promotion of Colonial Agriculture, namely the cultivation of quinine. In the scope of sylviculture, he was the first driving force behind the Forestation of Portugal, promoting the creation of forest tree nurseries. The forest tree nurseries of “Choupal” and “Vale de Canas”, were started by him and were fundamental for the Portuguese reforestation.

He made an important contribution in the preparation of a collection of various herbaria amongst which is the important “Herbarium Normale of Schultz”, and the “Medical Herbarium of the Department of Medical Material of the University of Coimbra”, which earned him praise and gratitude from the Faculty of Medicine at the conferences of 31st July 1882 and 1883. Many of the samples collected were organised and sent by Julio Henriques for other Herbariums, all over Europe, namely the – Berlin Herbarium. He was a very important collector of animal, plant and fungus species, both in Portugal and Africa. In 1885 he led a very important Scientific Expedition to São Tomé e Principe that lasted for four months. In this expedition, he prepared a descriptive catalogue of the products of these islands. These were first shown at the “Exposição Insular e Colonial Portuguesa”, (at the Portuguese colonial and islands Exhibition) at the Palácio de Cristal (Porto), during the 500 anniversary commemorations of the birth of Infante D. Henrique (Lisbon, 1896). During the four months of the expedition, he only accepted the travel expenses and the necessary funds for his sustenance. He returned to Portugal with 249 animal species and 735 samples for the herbarium as well as a valuable mineralogical and ethnographic collection. Due to the quality of his work and dedication to science, he was honoured by the governor of S. Tomé e Príncipe and praises and gratitude voted at a meeting of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Coimbra.

National and International Scientists, who studied, identified and classified many of the species collected by him, named many national and foreign species after him, such as: Polypodium molleri Bk, Polytrichum molleri Müll., Molleriana mirabilis Winter, Lecidea Molleri Henr., etc.

He also made an important contribution to the Phenology studies of Dr H. Hoffman – Director of the Giessen Botanical Gardens -, by making systematic and rigorous phenological studies, registering these over the years, of plants in the Coimbra Botanical Gardens, later published in the annual phenological publication “Phänologische Beosbachtungen”, managed by Dr. H. Hoffmann.

During his lifetime, Adolpho Möller co-operated with various national and foreign scientific publications such as: Gazeta da Pharmácia (Lisboa), Portugal Agrícola, O Tribuno Popular, O Instituto (Coimbra), Jornal da Sociedade Pharmacêutica Lusitana, Jornal da Real Associação de Agricultura Portuguesa, Gazeta das Aldeias, Jornal Hortícola-Agrícola, Jornal de Horticultura Prática, Boletim da Sociedade Broteriana, Correspondência de Coimbra, Berichten der Deutschen Pharmaceutischen Gesellschaft (Berlim), Der Tropenfflanzen, etc.

He published various studies, such as plant catalogues and articles on agriculture, sylviculture, floriculture, horticulture, pharmaceutical and medical botanics. Of the many works he wrote and published the “Catálogo das Plantas Medicinais que habitam o continente português” (The Catalogue of the Medicinal Plants found in the portuguese continent) as well as various studies on useful plants from equatorial Africa and many important articles about São Tomé, won him special recognition.

He was made honorary member of the “Sociedade Pharmacêutica Lusitana”, of Lisbon, and correspondent of the “Sociedade de Geographia Commercial”, of Oporto and of “Sociedade Promotora da Indústria Fabril”, of Lisbon.

He died in Lisbon in 1920.

Jorge Guimarães

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