Crop: Brassica rapa L. subsp. rapa (Turnip )

The turnip ‘Bosco Gurin’ is a local variety from Ticino. In Bosco Gurin, a mountain village at 1500 m above sea level, it has been cultivated by the villagers for generations. Bosco Gurin is a village founded in the 13th century by settlers from the Valais and, although situated in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, the Gurins speak their own Walser dialect, Ggurijnartitsch. In their homeland the turnip ‘Bosco Gurin’ is called ‘Guriner Raaftschi.

This turnip is adapted to the harsh mountain climate. The seeds should be sown thinly, as a beet can become quite broad, but the smaller, younger beets being harvested preferentially, as they have a finer taste. Flat round beet with a white skin at the bottom and a violet-red skin at the top.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Switzerland

It is cultivated in the village of Bosco Gurin.

Farmer(s) description:

This landrace is kept by people of the village Bosco Gurin, nowadays in gardens of only a few families and small-scale farmers. The small mountain village has few dozen of residents. Everyday life used to be hard in the mountains, so the turnip provided an excellent sweet and healthy food. It is an important ingredient of the traditional soup (Matzufamm).

Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Turnip is an open pollinated crop and is cultivated biennially for seed production. Crossbreeding with all other vegetables of the species Brassica rapa L. is possible. If several people let selected plants get into bloom the turnip population is propagated by the whole village together.

Management plan existence:

There is no specific plan to the landrace conservation at Bosco Gurin other than to keep up the tradition by willing people. However, as the landrace obviously is difficult to grow on other sites, the breeding and seed propagating firm Sativa Rheinau assumed problems of inbreeding. So, Sativa Rheinau started a project for freshening the population of the landrace by crossbreeding with other spring types of turnip, and reselecting plants close to the original landrace’s type.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Mainly grown as a garden crop by private individuals all over Switzerland, however some farmers of Bosco Gurin still cultivate this variety at small scale for the local market. ‘Bosco Gurin’ is an important ingredient in a traditional vegetable soup made from local vegetables called ‘Måtzufåmm. The soup and the ‘Bosco Gurin’ variety are celebrated at the yearly village festival taking place in September.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

The turnip ‘Bosco Gurin’ is said to be only growing well and to its excellent taste in the village of Bosco Gurin. The turnip landrace makes for an important part of the village’s heritage.

There’s no external support other than the breeding project of Sativa Rheinau which works at enhancing the plant population’s vitality and productivity. This project is supported by the Swiss MOA (Ministry of Agriculture). The long-time on farm conservation of this landrace at its original place is somewhat at the mercy of only a few people who grow seeds at Bosco Gurin.

Some seed propagators of Bosco Gurin are in contact with the ProSpecieRara foundation, and seeds are available by the latter’s network. In the future, presumably the organic seed firm Sativa Rheinau will offer seeds of a new line.

Case study provided by ProSpecieRara, Switzerland.