Willkomm Herbarium

Willkomm Herbarium

Project Description

Willkomm Herbarium: historical collection online

The herbarium of the Mediterranean area of H.M. Willkomm (over 30.000 specimens) constitutes a separate collection within the herbarium of the Department of Botany, University of Coimbra (COI). The collection includes cryptogams and higher plants and was the basis for Willkomm & Lange’s Prodromus Florae Hispanicae (1861-1880), the first Flora of the Iberian Peninsula. 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 (Castroviejo et al. 1986-). At present, most types have not been studied and the validity of some names of Willkomm and Lange currently used in the Iberian Peninsula needs reassessment. To preserve this very delicate historical collection the specimens are not available on loan. However, even a careful in situ consultation (adding to the accumulation of time and dust) is leading to damage of the collection.


We propose to (1) database the whole collection (2) make available in the Internet site of COI selected fields of the entries of each species, (3) run a relevant and well represented trial on the restoration of this historical collection, (4) associate each restored specimen to a high quality digital image in a database, (5) proceed the investigation of the type specimens the collection is reach in, (6) organize two workshops on the restoration of historical herbaria, and (7) assemble the information collected during the project in the format of a book. The results will (i) confer quality to this historical collection, important at European level, (ii) increase the accuracy of the accounts in Flora iberica by facilitating access to the information contained in this collection, and (iii) contribute towards the construction of a global network of plant information.

The database software SPECIFY (Kansas University©) to be used in the project complies with all the requirements of the Global Biological Information Facility (GBIF) on what handling of biological information is concerned (DiGIR and Darwin Core). Therefore, all the information assembled in the project will be readily linked to GBIF either directly or via any national/Portuguese node of GBIF.


We aim to:

· facilitate the global use of this historical collection

· make the information contained in the collection available free in the Internet (fulfilling Intellectual Property Rights – IPR), through a dedicated page in the site of the Herbarium of Coimbra (COI) that will allow search and retrieval of information

· establish the modus operandi for the restoration of the whole collection

· bring to light the true importance of the Willkomm Herbarium within the context of the Iberian Peninsula flora

· assemble biological information in a database complying with the rules of GBIF so that the Coimbra Herbarium will be an important active contributor to the future Portuguese node of GBIF


· The information derived from this project will have various impacts. The project will:

· benefit the scientific community in general and plant taxonomist in particular by making biological information available for free in the Internet

· contribute to a better nomenclature and taxonomy in the forthcoming volumes of Flora iberica, Castroviejo et al.

· provide COI specialists with further experience on complex herbarium curation

· benefit the Herbarium of the Department of Botany of the University of Coimbra by greatly contributing to its curation

· give training opportunities and widen the horizons of an enthusiastic young generation of botanists who seek excellence in a field rather forgotten in Portugal until now

· hopefully inspire other restoration endeavours of historical herbaria in Portugal

· contribute to the dissemination of scientific information within the Portuguese scientific society

draw attention of the international scientific community to the quality work and effort currently