Plant Species with Spontaneous Reproduction in Homegardens in Eastern Tyrol (Austria): Perception and management by women farmers
AbstractPlant species in Alpine homegardens in Eastern Tyrol (Austria) are managed along a continuum that ranges from species which are planted or sown every year to species which are left to spontaneously reproduce in the gardens. The importance, management practices and the cultural context of spontaneously reproducing species was studied in 196 gardens in the years 1997/98 within an ethnobotanical inventory. Respondents do classify species with spontaneous reproduction in “not welcome”, “tolerated” or “welcome” species. These categories are not mutually exclusive. Plants may be placed in one or more of them, because plants are managed differently by different gardeners. The first two categories have in common, that species have not been introduced actively by the gardener. They are soil borne or dispersed e.g., by wind or birds. “Not welcome” species are weeded as they germinate; “tolerated” species have a certain purpose, and therefore left to grow after harvest of the useful plant organ. From the total of 330 plant species with spontaneous reproduction found, 133 are “not welcome” and 26 plant species are “tolerated”. In recent history, weeded species have always been used for fodder or as medicinal plants. Today only a few gardeners recognize these uses. Species classified to be “welcome” (230 species) were almost all actively brought into the garden once. Without active propagation these plant species reproduce spontaneously now. Women farmers estimate the “welcome” species and their contributions to the farmers’ family, because of the diversity of their uses, the low labor input required for their management and as an opportunity to save money.
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