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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Using botanical resources to select wild forage legumes for domestication in temperate grassland agricultural systems

Micke, Brooke; Parsons, David


The need for better understanding and conservation of wild plant resources with potential for domestication or utilization in crop improvement has been highlighted in recent years. Botanical resources such as herbaria, databases, and floras offer an information-rich platform from which to select species of interest based on desirable traits. To demonstrate the potential of these resources, wild, native forage legumes were screened for inclusion in northern Swedish grassland agricultural systems (leys). The poor persistence of red clover in multi-year leys is a limitation to the current management strategy in the region. Wild, native forage legumes with the potential for longer persistence were considered for inclusion as minor components in leys to contribute to the system in later years of production. Using the Umea University Herbarium, local floras, and both regional and international biodiversity databases, seven wild forage legume species were selected based on phenology, morphology, and native range. Particular focus was given to the potential for species to provide pollinator resources early in the season, leading to species with early flowering being preferred. Biodiversity databases were also used to locate wild populations of the selected species to facilitate seed collection for future cultivation, as additional study of the agronomic potential of the selected species is necessary. Here, we have shown that the rich biodiversity data stored in botanical institutions can jumpstart the selection of wild species for utilization in the agriculture sector based on various traits of interest.


Forage legumes; Crop wild relatives; Herbaria; Ecosystem services; Fabaceae; Crop candidates; Sustainable agriculture

Published in

Agronomy for Sustainable Development
2023, Volume: 43, number: 1, article number: 1

    SLU Authors

    • Micke, Brooke

      • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
      • Parsons, David

        • Department of Agricultural Research for Northern Sweden, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

      Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG2 Zero hunger

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Agricultural Science

      Publication Identifiers


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