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Heirloom plant

Historic food crop cultivar / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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An heirloom plant, heirloom variety, heritage fruit (Australia and New Zealand), or heirloom vegetable (especially in Ireland and the UK) is an old cultivar of a plant used for food that is grown and maintained by gardeners and farmers, particularly in isolated or ethnic minority communities of the Western world.[1] These were commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture.[citation needed]

Only a few of the many varieties of potato are commercially grown; others are heirlooms.

In some parts of the world, it is illegal to sell seeds of cultivars that are not listed as approved for sale.[2] The Henry Doubleday Research Association, now known as Garden Organic, responded to this legislation by setting up the Heritage Seed Library to preserve seeds of as many of the older cultivars as possible. However, seed banks alone have not been able to provide sufficient insurance against catastrophic loss.[2] In some jurisdictions, like Colombia, laws have been proposed that would make seed saving itself illegal.[3]

Many heirloom vegetables have kept their traits through open pollination, while fruit varieties such as apples have been propagated over the centuries through grafts and cuttings. The trend of growing heirloom plants in gardens has been returning in popularity in North America and Europe.