Inventory of herb genetic resources in Finland
Galambosi, Bertalan; Galambosi, Zsuzsanna; Valo, R (2008)
Background: During the last 25 years interest in the use and cultivation of culinary herbs and medicinal plants has increased in the different sectors of Finnish society. During the last 15 years about 56 articles have been published in gardening magazines on the history of herbs in Finland and during the last decade numerous herb collections, herb gardens and show gardens have been created all around the country Within the framework of the Finnish National Plant Genetic Resources Programme for Agriculture and Forestry an inventory of medicinal and aromatic plants was made during 2004-2005. The inventory survey covered all public and private herb gardens in all parts of Finland and data were collected on the site, size and the body responsible for their upkeep as well on the plant species included and some observations on the main developmental trends. Results: During the last 15 years about 45 different herb gardens and collections have been found, of which five belong to university botanical gardens, two to research institutes, seven to agricultural colleges and three to other educational institutes. Six herb gardens were maintained in connection with local museums and municipalities, and public organizations maintained eleven herb gardens. In addition, we found eleven private herb gardens. The size of the herb gardens varied between 30 and 800 m². The model for the newly created herb gardens was the so-called Kalm garden model , popularly known as a parish garden , created by Professor Pehr Kalm in the 18th century. It has four sectors of vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs and the plants were grown in small quadrate plots, and the garden atmosphere was in many cases monastic, Baroque or English style. The function of the herb garden were education, teaching, demonstration, research, decorative function or recreation, In private gardens it may be personal pleasure, tourism or the supply of herb raw material for their own products or kitchen. In several cases it was clearly observed to be part of the care of local history, keeping the local identity and cultural heritage. There were a few collections in which old local herb species and important genetic resources have been collected and conserved. The collections had large number of herb species (8-131). Comparing the species spectrum with the historical references from the 17th to 19th centuries, the present herb gardens grow all those herb species which had some importance in former times. The number of the most popular old Finnish herbs was 43. In 80 % of the gardens we found Levisticum officinale, Artemisia absinthium, Origanum vulgare ssp. vulgare and Hyssophus officinalis, while 75 % of the gardens grew Carum carvi and Thymus vulgaris, and 65 % had Humulus lupulus, Angelica archangelica, Armoracia rusticana, Myrrhis odorata, Artemisia dracunculus Inodora and Salvia officinalis. In every second garden we found Alchelmilla sp., Antriscus cerefolium, Hypericum perforatum, Ocimum basilicum, Mentha spicata and M. spicata var. crispa. These are the best known and most appreciated species in both old and modern Finnish society and it is these species that form the basis of the Finnish herbal heritage. New trend: At the same time we observed another important trend: the herbal heritage keeps changing and is becoming richer! The plant spectrum in the herb gardens was full of new and exotic herb species obtained from domestic and foreign seed companies or through the Internet. Enthusiastic herb growers try, grow, taste and use the novelties. The present herb gardens function like the botanical gardens and progressive manor-house gardens 300 years ago. Seed origin: We also observed that the seeds used in the gardens are predominantly of foreign origin. For this reason the activity of those gardens which focused on the collection and conservation of the old, well acclimatized Finnish herb strains, were particularly important. This activity must be continued and expanded in the near future. The role of herb gardens: The role of the renaissance of herb garden traditions in modern society is significant. The founders, creators and maintainers of the gardens perform an important cultural and historical service. The herb gardens condense basic information about our ancestors, their lives, health-care, food and gardening skills, etc. and the visitors gain a personal impression and knowledge of them, which is important for their own identity and education.
- Julkaisut