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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Neglected Landraces of Collard (Brassica oleracea L.) from the Carolinas (USA)

Authors
item Farnham, Mark
item Davis, E. - EMORY AND HENRY COLLEGE
item Morgan, J. - EMORY AND HENRY COLLEGE
item Smith, J. - CLEMSON UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 10, 2007
Publication Date: July 15, 2008
Citation: Farnham, M.W., Davis, E.H., Morgan, J.T., Smith, J.P. 2008. Neglected Landraces of Collard (Brassica oleracea L.) from the Carolinas (USA). Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution. 55:797-801.

Interpretive Summary: Collard is a common garden vegetable grown in the coastal plain region of North and South Carolina. Collard is a non-heading, leafy green type of cole crop closely related to cabbage. Collard is grown mostly during fall and winter in the Southeast and it is often the only green planting to be found in the yard or garden of a rural home during these cool seasons. Traditional collard patches and even early commercial fields of collard were planted with heirloom varieties perpetuated by individual seed savers. Collectively, the differences among varieties of this vegetable were very significant for well over a century and no two varieties would have been exactly alike. It is assumed that the much of the historical variation that was present in collard was lost in recent decades as commercial hybrids have been adopted by both large-scale producers and home gardeners. Although a significant number of heirloom collard varieties are being perpetuated to date, many of these diverse varieties are now in the hands of an aging group of seed savers. From 2003 to 2006, we explored the coastal plain region of North and South Carolina in search of collard gardens containing heirloom varieties. Exploration trips were conducted mid-winter to early spring when collard patches were readily visible from rural roads. About 90 collard varieties were obtained from seed savers during the course of this exploration. Observations of morphological characteristics of the collected varieties indicate that significant variation exists in the group. Obtained varieties are being deposited into the USDA plant collection and will be available for future use. The preserved varieties may prove to exhibit traits that might be used to improved collard and the other related cole crops.

Technical Abstract: A common garden crop grown in the coastal plain region of North and South Carolina (United States) is the non-heading, leafy green type of Brassica oleracea L. known as collard (B. oleracea Acephala Group). Predominantly a fall and winter vegetable in this region, collard is often the only green planting to be found in the yard or garden of a rural home during these cool seasons. Historically, the traditional collard patch and even commercial fields were planted with unique varieties perpetuated by individual seed savers, and collectively, the regional diversity for this crop was probably very significant for well over a century. Genetic erosion of this collard germplasm pool has been severe in recent decades as commercial hybrids have been adopted by both large-scale producers and home gardeners. Although a significant number of collard landraces are being perpetuated to date, existing diversity among landraces still grown in the region is now in the hands of an aging population of seed savers. From 2003 to 2006, we explored the coastal plain region of North and South Carolina in search of collard gardens containing traditional landraces. Exploration trips were conducted mid-winter to early spring. About 90 samples of collard were obtained from seed savers during the course of this exploration. Observations of morphological differences of these landraces indicate that significant diversity exists in this group. Obtained landraces are being deposited into the U.S. plant introduction collection and will be available for future use. This preserved collection could prove to be an important new source of genes for B. oleracea improvement.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014
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