By Wayne L. Handlos, Ph.D.--

  PROF. H. E. MOORE, JR.    

   Harold Emery Moore, Jr. (generally known as Hal) was born in Massachusetts in 1917. He   graduated from

   Massachusetts State University in 1939. He then attended Harvard University where he received an M.A. in 1940

   and a Ph.D. in 1942. As a graduate student he travelled to Mexico and Guatemala for five months to study the

                              species of Geranium. He published a major revision (108 pages) of Geranium in Mexico and Central America in 1943


    Hal Moore was an early contributor to IGS (International Geranium Society). An article he  had written for

    the journal Baileya (1955) was serialized in Geraniums around the Worl  (1960-61). Originally a study of

the species of Pelargonium was undertaken by Hal to clarify  and establish the correct names for the cultivated species of

Pelargonium. This work was done as background for the inclusion of these species in the monumental volume Hortus Third (which

includes descriptions of 3,301 genera and 20,397 species of cultivated plants). Even if you are not a plant taxonomist, Moore’s article is

worth looking  at to understand the complications associated with the names of plants and the application of the set of rules (International

Code  of Botanical Nomenclature) which help in determining what name should be applied to any given species. Moore begins by pointing

out that, although some 1400+ names which have been proposed in Pelargonium, there are only about 250 actual species to be found

in nature! His article is useful even today because of the many illustrationsincluded from the historical literature (much of which is in rare

publications and/or unavailable outside of large research libraries). The illustrations were prepared by Mitsu Nakayama, staff artist in the

L.H. Bailey Hortorium ( *example above). More recently Moore also prepared “Taxonomy of Pelargoniums in Cultivation” ( expanded

and completed by  Peter Hyypio after Moore’s death) as Chapter 34 in the book Geraniums II (1982).

During World War II (1942-46) Hal served in the Medical Administrative Corp in the U.S. Army. After this he had a year’s fellowship to

work in Mexico on the genus Geranium. He returned to Harvard in 1947 and worked in the Gray Herbarium. Here he met L.H. Bailey,

who recruited him as an assistant professor to the L.H. Bailey Hortorium at Cornell University where he began work in 1948 after a further

 three month’s field work in Mexico. He was an associate professor from 1951 to 1960, professor from 1960 to 1978 and L.H. Bailey

Professor of Botany from 1978 until his untimely death in 1980 at the age of 63. Hal was the director of the L.H. Bailey Hortorium from

1960 until 1969 (when he suffered a major heart attack).

                      Nat Uhl  > < John Dransfield                 **     

In his later years, L.H. Bailey had begun working on the taxonomy of palms (family Arecaceae or Palmae). When Bailey recruited

Moore, Hal was encouraged to become more involved with the study of palms. Bailey envisioned a “Genera Palmarum” – a work

describing the palm family and all of the genera in it. Bailey died in 1954 so the vision was left to H.E. Moore. Moore actively collected

and studied the palms and in 1973 published a landmark paper “The Major Groups of Palms and Their Distribution”. In 1980 he began

writing Genera Palmarum – but died of kidney failure before completing the manuscript. His coworker (Natalie Uhl of Cornell University)

and colleague (John Dransfield of the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew) completed the work in 1987. At the time of his death Hal

had collected specimens of about 180 of the 200 genera of palms. He had travelled and collected in Turkey, Comoros, Madagascar,

Mascarenes, Seychelles, Australia, New Caledonia, Fiji, Solomon Islands, U.S.A., Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Cuba,

Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil and several countries in Africa.


In addition Hal made significant contributions to studies in the Gesneriaceae, Geraniaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Cucurbitaceae and

Commelinaceae. His book African Violets, Gloxinias and their Relatives was published in 1957. While somewhat dated by more

recent studies and extensive interest in this family, the book is a treasure trove of information well beyondm the family. The many

illustrations by Marion Ruff Sheehan are exemplary (**See above.).

For most of his professional career Hal was involved in the production of Hortus Third. In addition he was the founding editor of the

journal Principes (now Palms) and editor of Gentes Herbarum begun by L.H. Bailey. Hal published about 300 papers related to plant



Hal devoted many hours writing grant proposals for funding of Hortus Third as well as for his own travels to collect palms in the far flung

corners of the globe as well as funding the anatomical studies of Natalie Uhl, and supporting the studies, work and travels of various

students. Two examples: M.V. Parthasarathy accompanied Hal to South America to collect palm specimens and study them for his

doctoral dissertation. M.V. Parthasarathy eventually returned to Cornell University and established a laboratory facility for electron

microscopy. My own case: Hal obtained funds for two of my trips to Mexico to collect specimens and material of various members of the

Commelinaceae (spiderwort family) for my doctoral dissertation on the genus Tripogandra and spin-off publications on the cytology

and culture of Tradescantia species and related genera. Other students of Hal’s studied the gesneriads and palms.


On a personal level, before going to Cornell University I had an interest in gesneriads and owned a copy of Moore’s book on African

violets which I treasured then (and still do). So when I arrived at Cornell and was taken to my office, I walked past Hal’s office door.

I then decided to ask him to be my thesis advisor. After talking with him I decided to investigate the genus Tripogandra (in the spiderwort

family, Commelinaceae) because of the interesting modifications of its stamens which looked like they might be involved in some unique

 way with distinctive pollinators.


After taking courses in cytology with C. Uhl and investigating plants in the genus Setcreasea (‘Purple Heart’ plant, now considered a

species of Tradescantia) for a class project, I took my first trip to Mexico in 1965.

        < Flower     and       Chromosomes >        of Tripogandra

About half of the species of Tripogandra are found in Mexico so it was logical to go to Mexico and collect material. In any case the trips

and connections with faculty members led to my detailed study of the cytology of members of the Commelinaceae, an anatomical

study of the inflorescences of Tradescantia and Tripogandra (influenced heavily by the anatomical studies of N.W. Uhl on palms),

and the study of pollinators of Tripogandra in the field (leading to the discovery and collection of several new species of bees). All of

this evolved and was guided by my association with Hal Moore and for this I am deeply grateful and forever indebted.


Hal’s many trips and his association with botanists around the world reinforced my own interests in other cultures and the tropics

(in what we used to call the Third World). His patience and the time he spent with my doctoral dissertation confirmed the importance

of the role of an influential teacher and mentor in values which I think I have maintained through my years of teaching in and out of

academic settings.


Moore was active in OTS (Organization of Tropical Studies) to promote “education, research and responsible use of natural resources

in the tropics” by students around the world.


The period of 1964 to 1970 at Cornell University was significant for the changes in the structure of departments and academic disciplines.

As other institutions found their traditional botany and zoology departments merged and reorganized with genetics and ecology

among others, Cornell University was caught up in these changes too. Hal hosted many social gatherings in this period which led to the

strengthening of some traditional alliances and expanding the connections to other disciplines supporting traditional botanical studies

– i.e. close cooperation between ecologists, entomologists, geneticists, etc. and traditional botanists.


Moore is commemorated by the palm genus Halmoorea and several species including Anthurium halmoorei, Bactris halmoorea

and Ravenea moorei among others.


While Hal Moore didn’t teach any formal courses, he did encourage an active seminar program, brought in important botanical and

taxonomic speakers, contributed numerous slides to the Hortorium’s collection of plant pictures, advised students on relevant courses

and programs, always had time to confer with students, and maintained an open an enquiring mind. His enthusiasm and energy were

contagious. His meticulousness and dedication were passed on to his students by daily examples. He was a demanding but kindly

taskmaster – a teacher of merit who didn’t teach a course. Could a computer do any or all of this? How important are individuals in



© 2010, Central Coast Geranium Society (CCGS )