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J South Afr Stud. 2010;36(3):599-618. doi: 10.1080/03057070.2010.507565.

Pressed flowers: notions of indigenous and alien vegetation in South Africa's Western Cape, c. 1902-1945.

Abstract

In the early twentieth century, botanists in South Africa's Western Cape sought urgently to popularise and protect the region's unique indigenous Fynbos flora. Plants imported from the 1840s, some of which proved invasive, became a physical and symbolic focus for their advocacy. The botanists' efforts resonated with political attempts to forge a common white South African national identity that drew on notions of landscape and the indigenous flora for symbolism and that consciously exploited the politically integrative potential of the new science of ecology. Introduced by overseas-trained experts, ecological theory was, however, inappropriate for the local flora, and had unfortunate consequences for the scientifically-informed research and management particularly of the fire-maintained Fynbos. While botanists and conservationists were united in defending the local flora against invasive introduced plants, they drew distinctions between what was 'indigenous' and what was 'natural' that further complicated their attitudes to the local flora. These historical debates illuminate agendas and policies on introduced ('alien') and indigenous flora in the region today.

PMID:
20879182
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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