Win a copy of Building Community this week in the City Repair forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • r ranson
  • James Freyr
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke

words: landrace, variety and cultivar

master steward & author
Posts: 19821
Location: Left Coast Canada
books chicken cooking fiber arts sheep writing
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Can anyone help define landrace, variety and cultivar?  I think I know what they are, but when I try to put it into words, I find I can't explain it in a pithy way.  
Posts: 5145
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here's the definitions that I use.

A genetically-diverse, locally-adapted population.

Having a distinct appearance from others of the species.

A variety that is selectively inbred (maintained) to keep a consistent appearance.

As examples: My landrace maxima squash can have any colored skin. They can be any size between 5 and 15 pounds. Shape can be banana, round, or oblong. They have to taste great and mature quickly to satisfy the local eaters, and mature in the short growing season. Within my landrace, there are a number of varieties: Orange squash, Green squash, banana squash, round squash etc... Even round orange squash, round green squash, etc.

Landrace containing many varieties:

I grow one squash cultivar. Yellow crookneck. It is always crookneck shaped, and always yellow. I maintain it as a cultivar, and don't let it stray from that type.


Posts: 1522
Location: RRV of da Nort
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just adding this to the discussion....

It looks from the definitions within that link that varieties generally will be inbred....."true" breeding....and often come from nature.

Cultivars are more the product of human endeavor and will include hybrids (but not always as in Joseph's crookneck), hybrids not being true breeding if they are interpollinated.  I guess that makes sense as I've often heard of open-pollinated varieties, but not open-pollinated cultivars, although I suppose such a thing could not be ruled out.  Will be interesting to additional discussion....hopefully I've interpreted the artigcle properly.

Edit:  I'm seeing a double-posting on this so hopefully one of them can be removed?  Also, with regard to when 'variety' is used colloquially, I've rarely heard larger-scale farmers refer, amongst each other, to their corn or sugarbeets as 'cultivars', although they may use the term 'hybrid'.  They most often just use the term 'variety' even if a bit generically.
Posts: 701
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mr. Lofthouse is who I would defer to on this for sure. The only thing that I will add is that I think of cultivars as subsets of varieties. So to expand on Josephs example, there is a variety of summer squash we call yellow crookneck. They are soft skinned squash that mature early in the season and are yellow and crooknecked in shape. Within this there will be a number of cultivars, they will have varying size, color (canary yellow vs easter yellow for example) and they will vary in the exact growth habits/production of the plant.
Posts: 135
Location: Northern Colorado
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Don't forget the word grex. Basically a mix a different varieties together that are all growing together but have not interbred. Grex could also be a synonym for a pre-landrae or a proto-landrace if you are developing a locally adapted landrace for your area. A specific variety could be selected out of a landrace.
and POOF! You're gone! But look, this tiny ad is still here:
Learn Permaculture through a little hard work
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic