Historical Collection of Pharmacognosy









María Emilia Carretero Accame

+34 91394 1871


Description of Funds

Teaching the old discipline “Medicine Products”, known today as Pharmacognosy, requires a good knowledge of drugs under study. Until the widespread use of synthetic drugs, the source of these substances was natural products, mainly plants. Nowadays, the use of medicinal plants has a high therapeutic interest.

The collection comprises nearly 800 drug samples, most of them are plants and only a few have animal and mineral origin. They are stored in nineteenth century cans, vials, bottles, cups or glasses. The samples are mostly labeled.

The main collection includes vascular and nonvascular plants. The first group is the largest and is classified according to the part of the plant used (roots, rhizomes, leaves, flowers, etc...) or the final product (starches, balsams, resins, etc..).

The main collection includes, among other materials, a compilation of American logs with the inscription "Col. del Peru - Botanical 1878 ". It is made up of Peruvian cinchona trees from the expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru (1777-1831) and similar to JL Howard’s (1858), acquired for the British Natural History Museum.

Despite the modest size of the containers, the dyes and essential oils constitute the second collection of interest. The quality and quantity of materials as well as the information presented place high scientific value on these pieces.

The History of the Collection

The origin of the collection lies in the material coming from San Fernando Pharmacy Association of Madrid. The latest inventory was dated 1835, slightly increased during the nineteenth century thanks to donations made by students and teachers linked with the University of Madrid

The collection experienced a spectacular development with the appointment of Dr. Juan Ramón Gómez Pamo as Chair of “Pharmaceutical Plant” in 1889, taking over the collection and proposing a new system of organization that is still used today. In addition, he acquired new materials commercialized by German companies in the early twentieth century.

Professor Gómez Pamo published an index of the Pharmaceutical Plant collection in Madrid (1911). Antonio González Bueno and Paulina Bermejo have studied quinine products. The J. Pavón collection of quinines (1754-1840) was published in the “Acta Botánica Malacitana Journal” (1989, 14: 195-197).