Who is Francis Hallé?

I was born on April 15, 1938 in Seine-Port (77), France, and studied at La Sorbonne University in Paris.

I have two scientific specializations: the ecology of tropical forests and the architecture of their trees.

My career paths


Doctoral thesis at the University of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)


Lecturer at the University of Brazzaville (Congo)


Professor at Lovanium University in Kinshasa (ex Zaire, DRCongo)


Professor of Botany at the University of Montpellier (France)


“Team Leader” at the Biotrop/SEAMEO Center for Tropical Biology in Bogor, Indonesia.


Launch of the International Conferences on TREES in Montpellier: 1985, 1990 and 1995. Montreal (Quebec) 2000.


Head of the Radeau des Cimes (Canopy Raft) missions and in charge of the scientific aspects of research on tropical forest canopies.


Mission to Vanikoro (Solomon Islands); participation in research on the shipwreck of La Pérouse and its survivors.


Research on the canopies of the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar.

dessin de Francis Halle

An Agroforest in Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon Island. Drawing by Francis Hallé


Teaching Botany and Forest Ecology in Tanzania, for the TBA (Tropical Biology Association) – University of Cambridge (UK).

Teaching Tropical Botany at Chiang Mai University (Thailand).


Botanical exploration mission to the Robinson Crusoe Islands (Juan Fernández, Chile).

Participation in the IBISCA mission on the canopies of San Lorenzo (Panama) in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.

Teaching Botany – Forest Ecology in Madagascar for the TBA.

Trip to Ecuador for the “Ushuaïa” TV show.


Trip to the Fairchild Botanical Garden, Miami, Florida.


Trip to California’s redwood and giant sequoia forests


Research Residency in New Zealand and visit of the Auckland Botanical Garden.


Trip to the forests of the Boloven Plateau in Laos.

Trip to the forests of the island of Mayotte in the Comoros.


Research stay in South Africa (University of Pretoria)


Botanical Congress in Córdoba (Argentina)


Working at the Limbe Botanical Garden in Cameroon.

Trip to Laos to prepare the 2012 exploration

dessin de Francis Halle datant de 2012

Baillonella Toxisperma, Sapotaceae, the « Moabi » – Gabon. Drawing by Francis Hallé


Exploration of the Canopies of Khammouane Province in Laos.

Participation in the making of Il était une forêt (Once Upon a Forest), a film by Luc Jacquet, in the Peruvian Amazon and Gabon.


Conference and work at the Botanical Garden in Havana, Cuba.

Conference and visit to the Botanical Garden in Montreal

Trip to Mexico and teaching in Cancun


Teaching at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

Trip to Białowieża Forest in Poland

Lecture at Oxford University

Conference in Saint-Denis, Réunion Island, France.

Research residency in the Galapagos Islands and conference in Quito


Teaching in Terrassa (Spain)

Conferences in Colombia, Bogota and Medellín


Trip to the Botanical Gardens and Forests in Madeira, Canary Islands and Azores


Conference in Guadeloupe on economic poverty in the tropics

Film on the old-growth forest of Gabon


Botanical drawing exhibition in Singapore

Botanical drawing exhibition in Montreal

July 14, meeting Eric Fabre for the first time at Couthures-sur-Garonne

December, trip to the primary forests of Tasmania


Trip to Gabon for Luc Marescot’s film.

February 25: Ste-Croix de Die, Constitutive Assembly of the Association for a Primary Forest.

Teaching residency in San Diego, Los Angeles, Pasadena.

May: The Francis Hallé Association for a Primary Forest is created.

Trip to Gabon for Gilles Santantonio’s film.

July: Opening of the exhibition Nous les Arbres (Trees) at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.

August 14: The Francis Hallé Association for a Primary Forest in Western Europe is granted the status of Association of General Interest.


Meeting with Marco Onida, DG Environment EU Commission, Land use and management – Forest, who gave his encouragement to our project.

Media coverage of the project: France Inter, Arte, Le Monde, Libération, France Culture, etc.

Support for our project in the report « French forests in crisis », drawn up by several nature conservation NGOs and submitted to Anne-Laure Cattelot, Member of Parliament.


Publication of the book « L’étonnante vie des plantes » written with Rozenn Torquebiau, published by Actes Sud

Release of the film « Poumon vert et tapis rouge », by Luc Marescot

Publication of « Pour une forêt primaire en Europe de l’Ouest » (For a primary forest in Western Europe) by Actes Sud

Presentation of the primary forest project at the IUCN congress in Marseille

Publication of the book « Le Radeau des cimes. Thirty years of exploration of equatorial forest canopies », co-written with Gilles EBERSOLT, Dany CLEYET-MARREL and Olivier PASCAL, published by Actes Sud

The association takes part in the Assises de la forêt, jointly organised by the Ministries of Agriculture, Ecological Transition and Industry.

The association’s first study trip to the Grand Est region to meet local players and present the project.


dessin de Francis Halle

All my research has been devoted to tropical plants, especially those in low altitude rainforests.

In 1964, I began to specialize in the study of vascular plant architecture. I first formalized this in 1970 with the concept of the “architectural model.” In 1978, Professors R.A.A. Oldeman (Wageningen, Netherlands) and P.B. Tomlinson (Harvard, MA, USA), helped me complete and extend this formalization with the concept of “reiteration.” The experimental approach to architectural determinism was used (Rubiaceae, Hevea brasiliensis, tree ferns). I am currently working on the confrontation of architectural data with systematics from molecular phylogenesis, and there appear to be some interesting convergences between the two approaches.

Two tropical forest missions were devoted to the genetic improvement of cultivated plants, on behalf of the EMBRAPA (Brazil) and the CIRAD (France):

1966 : Ethiopia, Coffea arabica collection
1974 : Brazilian Amazon, Hevea brasiliensis collection, top producers.

Eight missions were devoted to the study of equatorial forest canopies:

1986 : French Guiana, Crique Couleuvre
1989 : French Guiana, Petit-Saut
1991 : Cameroon, Akok, Campo Reserve
1996 : French Guiana, Paracou and Voltaire waterfalls
1999 : Gabon, La Makandé
2001 : Madagascar, Tampolo, Masoala Peninsula
2003 : Panama, San Lorenzo.
2012 : Laos, Nam Hinboun River, Khammouane Province

My published works

dessin de Francis Halle

63 scientific works were published between 1960 and 2004, in French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. This does not take into account newspaper or magazine articles, forewords, film texts, interviews, etc. Here is a selection of some of my books :

Etude biologique et morphologique de la tribu des Gardéniées (Rubiacées) (Biological and morphological study of the Gardenieae tribe [Rubiaceae]). ORSTOM thesis n° 22, 146 pp, 40 fig.

In collaboration with R.A.A. Oldeman  :  Essai sur l’architecture et la  dynamique de croissance des arbres tropicaux, Masson, Paris. Ce livre a été traduit en anglais par Benjamin C. Stone et publié aux Presses de l’Université de Malaisie à Kuala Lumpur (1975).

In collaboration with R.A.A. Oldeman et P.B. Tomlinson  Tropical trees and  forests; an architectural analysis. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New  York

In collaboration with P. Blanc, édition de  Biologie d’une canopée de forêt  équatoriale. Xylochimie

In collaboration with O. Pascal, édition de  Biologie d’une canopée de forêt  équatoriale II. Fondation Elf

Un monde sans hiver  ; les Tropiques  : nature et sociétés. Le Seuil, Paris.  Traduit en espagnol et publié à Mexico.

Biologie d’une canopée de forêt équatoriale III. Pro Natura International Paris

Eloge de la Plante  ; pour une nouvelle biologie. Le Seuil, Paris. Traduit en anglais par David W. Lee et publié par Timber  Press, Portland, USA 2002. Traduit en espagnol et publié par Libros del Jata, Bilbao, 2019. 

Biologie d’une canopée de forêt équatoriale IV. Pro Natura International, Paris

In collaboration with Dany Cleyet Marrel et Gilles Ebersolt,  Le Radeau des Cimes  ; l’exploration des canopées forestières. J.C. Lattès, Paris. Traduit en allemand et publié à Munich par Frederking & Thaler (2001). Traduit en chinois et publié à Shangaï.

Vingt ans d’observations biologiques au Jardin Botanique «  Les Cèdres  ».  Journal de la Société Botanique de France, n°18-19

Architectures de Plantes. JPC Edition, Palavas. 

Plaidoyer pour l’Arbre. Actes Sud. Publié en espagnol par Libros del Jata, Bilbao, 2019.

Coordinateur scientifique de  Aux Origines des Plantes. Ouvrage collectif en 2 volumes. Fayard, Paris.

La Condition Tropicale. Une histoire naturelle, économique et sociale des  Basses Latitudes. Actes Sud, Arles

Du Bon Usage des Arbres. Un plaidoyer à l’attention des élus et des énarques.  Actes Sud, Arles. Translated into Italien and pubished publié par Ponte alle Grazie à Milan.  La vie des arbres. Bayard Editions, Montrouge.

Un jardin après la pluie. Armand Colin, Paris. In collaboration with Luc Jacquet,  Il était une forêt, Actes Sud, Arles.

Plaidoyer pour la forêt tropicale. Sommet de la diversité, Actes Sud, Arles.

Atlas de Botanique poétique. Arthaud, Paris. Traduit en Italien et publié par L’ippocampo à Milan. Traduit en Allemand et publié par Frederking & Thaler à Munich. Traduit en Anglais et publié par The Mit Press à Londres et à Cambridge (Mass.)

50 ans d’explorations et d’études botaniques en forêt tropicale. Museo, Montpellier.

50 ans d’observations dans les Jardins botaniques du Monde. Museo, Montpellier

30 ans d’explorations des canopées forestières tropicales. Museo, Montpellier.

In collaboration with Roland Keller  Mais d’où viennent les plantes  ?  Avec un bonus numérique. Actes Sud, Arles.

My distinctions

dessin de Francis Halle

Correspondent for the National Museum of Natural History (Paris) and the Botanical Society of America (Saint Louis, MO)

Lifetime member of the Malaysian Nature Society (Kuala Lumpur)

David Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration (USA)

Doctor Honoris Causa of Florida International University (Miami).

New York Explorers Club Medal

Académie Française Award

Het Kronendack Prize for canopy exploration in Wageningen (Netherlands)

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