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Politics and place in the making of heritage plants

Conference contribution
Authors Katarina Saltzman
Tina Westerlund
Carina Sjöholm
Published in The 8th Nordic Geographers Meeting, Trondheim, 16-19 June 2019
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Conservation
Language en
Subject categories Human Geography, Horticulture, Ethnology


The potato onion ‘Leksand’, the soapwort ‘Kvinnsgröta’, and the geranium ‘Drottningminne’ are since a few years officially authorized Swedish heritage plants. They are all named after places; a small town in Dalecarlia, a village on the island Öland and a farmstead in the northern region Jämtland. This presentation will discuss how heritage plants are made, in processes which comprise social and political agency as well as specific capacities of plants. In particular, connections between plants and places will be examined. The national Swedish programme for cultivated plant diversity (Programmet för odlad mångfald, Pom), has investigated and collected hundreds of ‘old and valuable’ varieties of garden plants, aiming to safeguard 'the Swedish cultivated heritage'. The programme is based on the assumption that old varieties should be regarded as resources with potential genetic qualities (e.g. hardiness, taste) that are no longer available. Some varieties have been (re)released on the market under the label Grönt kulturarv® (Green heritage). Many, as the ones mentioned, have been named after places where they were cultivated/collected; others after people who grew them. These names seem to add historical value and identity to the plants, by connecting them to places and people in the past. The making of ‘heritage plants’ includes human as well as non-human agencies. By surviving, these plants have proved to be long-lived and healthy, but what happens when they are propagated and spread to new places? How does the status of ‘heritage plant’ affect the plant, and how does the plant affect heritage-making processes?

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