Escudo de la República de Colombia


The Gabriel Gutiérrez Villegas herbarium, also known as MEDEL, is a research center attached to the Faculty of Science at Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Medellin site. The herbarium focuses on the study and documentation of Colombian flora with special emphasis on those species which are native of the province of Antioquia. Currently, MEDEL holds a valuable collection of dried pressed plants preserved under international standards, and classified according to current botanical nomenclature that allows an easy access to users. 

Herbaria are the main source of information on plant diversity, and serve as an important reference in description of new plant species and general taxonomic studies. Plants collections allow a detailed knowledge of plant distributions in local and regional areas, their uses, and common names. Additionally, they serve as an important source of information on endangered and invasive species, and support a wide variety of studies on ecosystem restoration, education and environmental planning.

The MEDEL herbarium has contributed considerably to the Flora of Antioquia and Colombia and to an extensive number of local and international taxonomic publications about the plant diversity of Colombia. As a public service institution, the herbarium is interested in spreading awareness about the outstanding botanical heritage of Colombia and its current and coming conservation challenges. Over time, the collection has built up a singular representation of plant specimens, many of them from highly threatened and poorly studied habitats in Colombia such as the high mountain Andean vegetation (Paramos) and tropical dry forests. In addition, it holds an important number of specimens of cultivated plants and wild relatives, as a result of its historical ties to agricultural education. Due to a long history, and to the singular geographic representation of many of the collections, almost a thousand of specimens have been designed as nomenclature types, and many others represent poorly studied areas or places where the original vegetation has almost disappeared.


MEDEL herbarium was established in 1927 by plant pathologist Rafael A. Toro who was a visitor professor to the former Escuela Superior de Agricultura Tropical y Veterinaria (today, Agriculture Department of the Universidad Nacional) coming from Puerto Rico. He collected plants from Medellin and nearby towns in a time when there were sparse records of the flora of Antioquia. He also collected fungi and infected plant-parts in a pioneering colombian plant disease collection still preserved in the MEDEL facilities (mycological herbarium). Today the herbarium has almost 60000 specimens that represent a substantial portion of colombian botanical history.

Besides Toro, several foreign and colombian researchers have contributed to the consolidation of the MEDEL herbarium as directors and/or associate collectors: In the period 1920-30’s, W. Andrew Archer, Ellsworth Killip, Brother Daniel (Julián González Patiño), and other Lasallian brothers. In the 1940’s, Walter Hodge, Albert Delisle, Fred Barkley. In the decade of 1950, Gabriel Gutiérrez Villegas, Rafael Romero-Castañeda. In the 1960’s, Luis Sigifredo Espinal, and during the period from1970 to 2000, Jaime Rivera, Darío Sánchez. 

In the Herbarium "Medel” there are deposited near 60,000 units of plants, distributed among 8,500 species, which give testimony of the great diversity of Antioquia and Colombia´s flora. Within the collection of the herbarium, there are over 450 collections type, which are important sources and serve as reference for the description of new species. There are also about 23,000 historic specimens collected between 1927 and 1970, are of particular value because they contain information on the flora in areas where there are no forests today.

The MEDEL herbarium is intended to serve a wide range of public to public and private professional organizations, ranging from elementary schools to the scientific community. Among the services provided by the herbarium staff, and associated researchers, are the following:

  • Identification and deposit botanical collections. 
  • Services herbalization of botanical specimens in accordance with international standards. 
  • Floristic studies in different areas within environmental studies, diversity and conservation, regional and national levels. 
  • Check your reference collection for scientific studies and research, which contains more than 60,000 specimens of plants, with emphasis on flora in wastelands and dry forests of northwestern Colombia. 
  • Support and assistance in various activities aimed at biological conservation. 
  • Guided tours and lectures for groups. 
  • Workshops on Methodologies for collection and management of botanical collections. 
  • Loan and swap with other herbal botanical specimens to flora and case studies. 
  • Consultation specializing in botany and related subjects bibliography.


Magister en Ciencias Biológicas - Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.



Doctor en Biología de Plantas - Universidad de California, Davis, Estados Unidos


Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Sede Medellín

Calle 59 A # 63 -20 Bloque 11, Oficina 118

Teléfono: (+57) (4) 430 93 48

Correo electrónico:




De 8:00 a.m. a 12:00 m. y de 2:00 p.m. a 5:00 p.m.

Sigifredo Espinal
Pasiflora vitifolia
Licania cabrerae.
Herbario MEDEL
Herbario Gabriel Gutiérrez Villegas
Guatteria cuatrecasasii.
Espeletia praedrontina cuatrecasas
Eschweilera antioquensis (2)
Calliandra medellinensis
Eschweilera antioquensis