Herbarium of University of Coimbra


Seeds of Beauty

Seeds of Beauty

Funding: € 1.500 Compound Eyes Foundation.

Duration: 1 month, under way.

Proposal: To acquire microphotographs of seeds in the Seminarium of the Herbarium of the University of Coimbra, to make the images available in the online Herbarium Catalogue, to divulge and explore the educational potential of science and art to target public and school curricula.

Results: The photographs of seeds are available in the Catalogue of COI; workshop at school, bookmark collection, talk to the Sociedade Broteriana.


ISIKey - Interactive Seed Identification Key

Funding: Department of Life Sciences & Faculty of Sciences and Technology; PORBIOTA.

Duration: January 2017- .

Proposal: ISIKey is a project developed by the Herbarium of the University of Coimbra (COI) for easy seed identification through user-friendly tools that ease access to scientific information. The motto for the project was the Herbarium seed collection of c. 6,000 accessions, mainly of Portuguese taxa. ISIKey was initiated in 2017 with the Portuguese native flora, being expanded in 2019 to embrace the flora of the Island of Príncipe (São Tomé and Príncipe) in a partnership with the Príncipe Biosphere Reserve.


Accelerating digitising biological collections

Funding: Department of Life Sciences & Faculty of Sciences and Technology; PORBIOTA.

Duration: 3 years; starting in January 2017

Proposal: A small percentage of COI information is available on its online catalogue. We are developing tools to quicken the procedures by creating new efficiencies for data capture and retrieval, and providing novel approaches for interdisciplinary analysis and visualization. Task 1: To apply OCR reading to images of as many specimens labels as possible and automatically transfer the information to the database; Task 2: To develop a platform for citizen partnership in populating COI database from specimen digital images; Task 3: To automate basic databasing during the digitising process. Project developed by Joaquim Santos.

portuguese flora

Plants for Portugal: securing an European heritage

Funding: Department of Life Sciences & Faculty of Sciences and Technology.

Duration: 5 years; starting in April 2015.

Proposal: To optimise the Portuguese collection of flowering plants at COI following the changes in the country’s flora richness and distribution as a consequence of the major forest fires since the mid-1980s. Task 1: Restoration of selected plant families in the Herbarium (Phase 1: Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Liliaceae, Scrophulariaceae); Task 2: Digitising restored specimens; Task 3: Assessing and collecting taxa poorly represented in the collection.

The World in a City

The World in a City

Funding: Department of Life Sciences & Faculty of Sciences and Technology.

Duration: c. 4 years; starting in January 2016.

Proposal: Urban ecology and well-being in Coimbra has all to do with a series of tree-planting events that has taken place during the long city history. Nowadays this green heritage is rich in species numbers (a few hundreds) from all over the world. Task 1. To identify all street trees of Coimbra. Task 2. To map all street trees of Coimbra. Task 3. To develop an electronic application to access the information.

Results: A digital tool on the street trees of Coimbra directed to tourism.

Interactive seed identification

Revive seed collection

Funding: Department of Life Sciences & Faculty of Sciences and Technology.

Duration: January 2016- .

Proposal: Task 1: To curate the existing collection of c. 3000 taxa /accessions; Task 2: To expand the collection to include c. 3500 new accessions; Task 3: To database the whole collection.


Imaging and databasing African specimens at COI: the Gossweiler collection

Funding: € 57.492, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Duration: 14 months, completed.

Proposal: To digitalize and database the c. 8.500 specimens housed at COI collected by Gossweiler in Angola; also to exchange the duplicates with other international herbaria.

Results: The materials are available in the Herbarium Catalogue: 10,490 images (scanned); 48 images (photographed), 8,704 specimens databased

Willkomm Herbarium. Historical value: Old Label Specimen

Funding: € 10.000, Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon.

Duration: 9 months; completed.

Proposal: Willkomm is a main collector in the herbarium but he also assembled specimens from other specialists. There are 50 Spanish collectors, 6 Portuguese, but most are German and French in a total of c. 510 . Most labels on specimens are handwritten, sometimes almost impossible to interpret, especially so those written in sütterlin, a form of the old German cursive script. This is an excellent opportunity to make a major contribution to the research on other historical collections throughout the Mediterranean.

Results: A catalogue of (1) the handwriting and signature of the collectors and other botanists in the Herbarium of Willkomm, plus (2) the biographical information on these specialists. The virtual catalogue in the internet site of the Herbarium of the University of Coimbra assists researchers in the interpretation of handwritten notes and annotations in the Mediterranean herbaria. (see XX)


Imaging and databasing European types at COI: Portugal and Sudre's Batotheca

Funding: €10.480, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Duration: 6 months, completed.

Proposal: To digitalize and database the Portuguese type specimens of vascular plants plus the types in the Henri Sudre's Batotheca at COI (the latter were to be mounted).

Results: Type specimens are available in the Herbarium Catalogue.

Willkomm Herbarium: a historical collection online

Funding: € 143.000, PTDC/BIA-QOR/66755/2006.

Duration: 36 months; completed.

Proposal: To database, digitise and make available in the Internet site of COI the whole collection of H.M. Willkomm (c. 27.000 specimens); also to run a relevant and well represented trial on the restoration of this historical collection. This collection was the basis for the very first Flora of Spain. It contains many valuable type specimens of Iberian taxa that need to be consulted by taxonomists working on the on-going Madrid edited Flora iberica project.

Results: specimens available in the Herbarium Catalogue

Imaging and databasing African types at COI

Funding: € 18.624,33, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Duration: 24 months, completed.

Proposal: To digitalize and database the African type specimens of vascular plants.

Results: Type specimens are available in the Herbarium Catalogue.

Conservation of aromatic and medicinal plants in the Natural Park of Estrela Mountain

Funding: € 189.000 (National Strategic Reference Framework-Mais Centro), 2009-11.

Duration: 24 months, completed.

Proposal: To promote local development and science education based on sound research on local medicinal plants.

Results: Medicinal properties of essential oils are being tested, a germplasm bank is being constructed, a field for tests is being developed AND a local herbarium fully connected to COI is being created. The book Plantas Aromáticas e Medicinais do Parque Natural da Serra da Estrela. Guia Etnobotânico was published on the aromatic and medicinal plants of the Park.


History of the scientific expeditions to São Tomé & Príncipe: describing biodiversity from herbarium collections of bryophytes

Funding: € 5.033, POCI/AFR/58699/2004 (based at LISU).

Duration: 36 months, completed.

Proposal: to develop a historical and biological database using herbarium material, up-date the check-list of local bryophytes and contribute to in situ conservation.

Results for COI: databased, determined and curated all relevant plant material; gift of recent plant material from the area. See Sérgio, C. & Csar Garcia, C. (2011). Bryophyte Flora of São Tomé e Príncipe Archipelago (West Africa): Annotated Catalogue. Cryptogamie, Bryologie 32 (2): 145-196. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7872/cryb.v32.iss1.2011.145

Multidisciplinary investigation on higher altitudinal grasses; emphasis on taxonomic status and conservation

Funding: € 79.000, POCTI/BIA-BDE/60937/2004.

Duration: 36 months, completed.

Proposal: To investigate the altitude grasslands in the Natural Park of Estrela Mountain, some part of a biogenetic reserve. Floristic composition of Poaceae and its variation with altitude was assessed and recovery after fire investigated. Environmental education was also a strong component.

Results for COI: All vouchers specimens are deposited at COI; they were databased (see also http://www.uc.pt/grasses/ ).

Herbário da Universidade de Coimbra Online

Funding: € 167.310, POSI/685/2.2/C/CEN (2004-05).

Duration: 24 months, completed.

Proposal: To make available for free in the Internet information on the herbarium material relatively to the plant families not yet studied for Flora iberica, eds S. Castroviejo et al. (Madrid) in 2003, a project of which COI is a contributor herbarium. This will facilitate the regular consultation of the information at COI by the scientific community in general and by the collaborators of that project in particular. This project also had a component of multimedia outputs in broadband Internet intended to add an educational slant to the access to the herbarium and its collections.

Results: The first internet site and Catalogue of the Herbarium, all in Portuguese.


Plant diversity in Angola: a database of the family Leguminosae

Funding: € 22.875, POCTI/BIA/11149/2002.

Duration: 36 months, completed.

Proposal: To compile and analyze the data on family Leguminosae in Angola, based on the material in 2 Portuguese Herbaria (COI and LISC), and to make this information available to Angola and the international scientific community in general. The Leguminosae, the third largest family of flowering plants, are most diverse in the tropics and subtropics; in Angola has great importance, being represented by c. 930 taxa.

Results: The information on the 6.156 specimens at COI is now is part of the online catalogue of COI; 13.620 specimens were databased in total.

Flora iberica

Funding: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas CSIC, Spain.

Duration: 1986– .

Proposal: To publish the Vascular Flora of the Iberian Peninsula and the Balearic Islands in 21 volumes. It is a vast work of revision of the plant diversity of the Iberian Peninsula and COI is one of the six herbaria associated to the project (http://www.floraiberica.es/organizacion/herbarios/herbariosbasicos.php ); also botanist at COI have collaborated with accounts and the edition of Volume 14.

Results: Twenty one volumes are planned. The Flora is also online in the site of the Real Jardin Botánico de Madrid (http://www.floraiberica.es/ ). Click here for taxa search. http://www.floraiberica.es/PHP/generos_lista.php

Flora Zambesiaca

Funding: Various, including Portugal.

Duration: 1960– .

Proposal: Exell at the British Museum and Carrisso at Coimbra initiated this project aimed to publish the Flora of the area lying astride the Zambezi River drainage system, which involves Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is an enormous international undertaking to revise the plant diversity of this area and publish 14 volumes divided into 50 parts; COI collaborates with specimens for research and with publications of some of its researchers.

Results: c. 88% is published; of which 38 are published. The project site is accessed through the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html . Click here for taxa search. http://apps.kew.org/efloras/advsearch.do