Escudo de la República de Colombia Escudo de la República de Colombia



This work in figures


The current version of Common Names of Colombian Plants is based on 85,000 records from our database, which comprise 18,600 different names applied to 6,700 species. Additionally, there are 5,683 species that have not yet been identified, or have been identified only to genus. Many of these species of unknown identity will probably turn out the same as species already identified; but, on the other hand, many of them will prove additional species. Thus, the figure of plants that receive a common name in Spanish will be probably close to 8,000, i.e., about one third of the 24,000 plant species estimated to occur in Colombia (Bernal et al. 2007).


Sixty-two percent of the named species have two or more common names; the remaining 38 percent have only one name. Conversely, about 76 percent of the common names are applied only to a single species (univocal names), whereas 25 percent of the names are applied to two or more species (equivocal names). A vast minority of the names, only about 3.5 percent, are biunivocal, i.e., they are applied to a single species, for which that name is the only one recorded. Table 1 shows the names that are applied to the largest number of species in Colombia.




Table 1. Common names applied to the largest number of species in Colombia.


Common name Number of species
laurel 83
matapalo 70
barbasco 67
caucho    59
guamo 57
mortiño 57
tuno 55
cordoncillo 53
carguero 52
cadillo 51
platanillo 51
carbonero 50
cortadera 44




Species that receive the largest number of common names are major crops, as a result of the large number of varieties grown in Colombia. Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and manioc (Manihot esculenta) are particularly rich in common names (Table 2).




Table 2. Major crops with the largest number of common names in Colombia.


Species Reference name Number of names
Phaseolus vulgaris fríjol 789
Manihot esculenta yuca 514
Saccharum officinarum caña de azúcar 183
Musa x paradisiaca plátano 165
Capsicum annuum ají 163
Musa acuminata banano 142
Phaseolus lunatus fríjol zaragoza 122
Solanum tuberosum papa 111
Phaseolus dumosus fríjol cacha 72





Plants receiving the largest diversity of common names, besides major crops, include a few ornamentals, some common weeds and roadside plants, and several widespread useful trees. The 15 species receiving the largest number of names are shown in Table 3.



Table 3. Species (besides major crops) receiving the largest number of common names in Colombia.


Species Reference name Number of common names
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis bonche 69
Canna indica achira 52
Scoparia dulcis paraguay 45
Euphorbia pulcherrima navidad 43
Ageratum conyzoides manrubio 41
Lantana camara venturosa 41
Cordyline fruticosa carey 38
Bejaria aestuans pegamosco 37
Euphorbia cotinifolia liberal 37
Euphorbia tithymaloides pitamorrial 37
Senna reticulata bajagua 36
Socratea exorrhiza zancona 36
Gynerium sagittatum cañabrava 35
Minquartia guianensis acapú 35
Genipa americana jagua 34