A herbarium is a biological collection of plant (and fungi) specimens with relevant information on attached labels that give details of where and when the specimen was collected, ecological information and any features that are lost when dried. The specimens are housed in special cabinets and arranged according to a standard biological classification. The material is carefully prepared to withstand handling and the passing of time. A plant specimen (the whole plant or part of it) is pressed and dried between sheets of paper and fixed with glue on good stiff paper together with its label.
Herbaria are known and cited by their international acronyms – COI is the herbarium of the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra.
COI has c. 800.000 specimens, organised in separate collections due to the research priorities over the years. The General collection retains the original organisation of the herbarium and is by Dalla Torre’s Genera siphonogamarum of 1900-1907 (Gen. siphon.). The organisation of the sub-Saharan African plants emphasises the connections with the British Museum and Kew following Bentham & Hooker’s Genera plantarum of 1862-1883 (Gen. pl.). The Portuguese plants follow Pereira Coutinho’s Flora de Portugal (2nd ed., revised by R. T. Palhinha 1939). The Cryptogams are being organised alphabetically.
- Vascular African plants, from the Portuguese ex-colonies in Africa plus the other sub-Saharan countries; a particularly important collection; databasing and imaging has started (c. 240.700 specimens)
- Vascular Portuguese plants, the largest collection of Portuguese plants anywhere; databasing and imaging has started (c. 100.000 specimens)
- General vascular plant collection, the largest collection in Portugal of plants of the whole world (c. 207.000 specimens)
- Cryptogams, type specimens and the São Fiel collection are particularly valuable; databasing has started (64.500 specimens)
- Moritz Willkomm’s Historical Herbarium (1821-1895), valuable collection kept separate, with many type specimens and including the material used for the publication of the first Flora of Spain, Prodromus Flora Hispanicae; databasing and imaging is finalized (28.986 specimens)
- Henri Sudre’s historical collection of Rubus (the Batotheca) on which he based his publication Rubi Europaea (1908-1913)
- Books of exsiccatae, various collections of cryptogams (86 books)
- Collection of duplicate material, valuable specimens used for exchange with other reputable herbaria
- Carpological collection, large fruits linked with herbarium specimens (362 dried specimens + 26 in spirits)
- Seminarium, seed collection; databasing has started (c. 6500 specimens)
The Herbarium is run by the Curator, Dr Fátima Sales (Prof. Associate, Lecturer of the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra) and three technicians, Isabel Corino, Arménio Matos and Joaquim Santos.
The Advisory Committee for the Herbarium (COACH, Comissão de Aconselhamento do Herbário) is constituted by four Lecturers of the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the University of Coimbra, Prof. Dr António Veríssimo, Prof. Dr Carlos Palmeira, Prof Dr Jorge Canhoto and Prof. Dr Teresa Gonçalves, plus the Curator.
is in close contact with the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (E)
and has benefited from this in a number of ways, especially in modernising its
methods and techniques.