In the Atlantic, there are traces of an ancestral flora from a period when the planet was warmer. This flora, named Laurissilva (Laurel forest), is found in the archipelagos of the Azores, Madeira, the Canaries, and even Cape Verde. From an evolutionary viewpoint, it is extremely important to the study of island biodiversity and for conservation, these constitute fragile habitats where extinctions occur more quickly.
The largest collection of the Azorean flora is at the Herbarium of the University of Coimbra. Its digitization started in collaboration with the project eAZFlora-Electronic Flora of the Azores for Smartphones and Tablets and 162 specimens are now available for databasing. These first specimens were collected mainly by the Azorean GP Bruno Tavares Carreiro (1857-1911), an amateur botanist who directed the botany section of the Municipal Museum in Ponta Delgada, later, Carlos Machado Museum. There are also several specimens collected by other botanists, in particular by the team consisting of Pierre Dansereau (1911-2011), the pioneer of modern ecology and deputy director of the New York Botanical Garden and Professor at Columbia University, António Pinto da Silva (1912–1992), agronomist, taxonomist, and well-known phytossociologist and the collector Bento V. Rainha (1912–1973).