Harms worked as a botanist at the Botanical Museum in Berlin. He was a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
He was longtime editor of Adolf Engler's "Das Pflanzenreich". He was the author of several chapters on various plant families in Engler and Prantl's Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, including the chapter on Bromeliaceae (1930).
The plant genus Harmsia (Schum.) from the family Malvaceae is named after him.
- Genera siphonogamarum ad systematic Englerianum conscripta. Leipzig: G. Engelmann, 1900-1907, with Karl Wilhelm von Dalla Torre (1850-1928).
- Cucurbitaceae Cucurbiteae-Cucumerinae. Leipzig: Engelmann, 1924 (reprinted Wiley 1966), with Alfred Cogniaux (1841-1916).
- This article is based on a translation of an equivalent article at the German Wikipedia, namely: Robert Zander, Fritz Encke, Günther Buchheim, Siegmund Seybold (eds) Handbook of Plant Names . 13th Edition. Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart 1984, ISBN 3-8001-5042-5 .
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