Johan Emanuel Pohl grew up in Boletice nad Labem(cs) (German: Politz), studied in Prague and graduated as Doctor of Medicine in 1808. After a stint teaching at the University he worked in military hospitals in Náchod and Prague. While he taught botany at the university he became librarian and curator of the collections of the Princess Kinsky. In this period he published the Tentamen florae bohemicae of which only the two first volumes got published; Expositio generalis anatomica organi auditus per classes animalium, and Systematischer Überblick der Reihenfolge der einfachen Fossilien.
His voluminous collections, among them some 4000 specimens of plants, were housed with the rest of the expedition collections in the Brazil Museum of Vienna, which included also two live specimens, a pair of Botocudo tribespeople. The woman died soon after and the man was eventually returned to his native land. After his return Pohl served as a curator at the Vienna Natural History Museum and the Vienna Brazilian Museum until his death.