Eduard Hackel, Austrian botanist and son of the veterinarian Joseph Hackel, studied at the Polytechnischen Institut, Vienna from 1865 to 1869. During 1869-1870 he qualified as a lecturer at the Realschule in St Pölten (now Sankt Pölten, east of Vienna) and lectured there in natural history from 1871 to his retirement in 1900. He moved to Graz, Austria, in 1904 and three years later to Attersee, where he remained for the rest of his life.
His speciality was the taxonomy of grasses (family Gramineae, or Glumales), particularly the genus Festuca, on which he published many papers. As an internationally recognised expert he was asked to study collections of grasses from many countries. He differentiated between intravaginal and extravaginal shoots; used the histology of leaf layers to classify the blossomless grasses; made a study of the lodiculae - the small scales present below the stamens in the flower of a grass - and was the first to discover their function. The only substantial journey which he undertook in the course of his career took him to Portugal and Spain in 1876, in the company of Moritz Winkler. Upon his return he published a catalogue (in French) of the Gramineae of Portugal (1880). He continued publishing descriptions of new grasses from all over the world until 1915.
Hackel's contributions to the study of the grasses of southern Africa took the form of a few short papers. He published "On some South African grasses in the herbarium of the Albany Museum" in the first volume of the Records of the Albany Museum (1903-1906, pp. 113-114), followed in the same volume by a description of a new species of grass, Calamagrostis huttoniae (pp. 340-341). In January 1908 he submitted two papers, "List of grasses collected at Bulawayo by M.D.W. Jeffreys" and "Description of new Rhodesian grasses", to the Rhodesia Scientific Association, which published them in its Proceedings (1908, Vol. 7(2), pp. 63-65 and 65-). The collector of the grasses, Mervyn Jeffreys* was only 17 years old at the time.