Cultivating the Cultural Memory of Ranunculus Paucifolius T. Kirk, a South Island Subalpine Buttercup. (2017)
AuthorsCobley JJLshow all
Building from an idea outlined in Libby Robin’s landmark study How a Continent Created a Nation (2007), this article traces shifting European attitudes towards Ranunculus paucifolius, a rare subalpine buttercup, from ‘strange and foreign’ to ‘familiar’ then ‘endangered’. I draw from fragments of historical evidence held in museums, botanic gardens, archives, and university teaching collections in order to understand how and why the Castle Hill buttercup became important to Canterbury’s high country identity and in need of safeguarding. Since entering the Western scientific record, R. paucifolius has been observed growing in home gardens and botanic garden nurseries, as well as in the wild and in experimental nursery plots at Castle Hill, its only known habitat, between the Torlesse and Craigieburn ranges in the South Island of New Zealand. Organised around the themes of discovery, classification and conservation, this article unearths certain ambiguities and risks associated with the preservation of regionally and nationally significant plants, and highlights the evolving importance of indigenous flora in cultural memory.
CitationCobley JJL (2017). Cultivating the Cultural Memory of Ranunculus Paucifolius T. Kirk, a South Island Subalpine Buttercup. International Review of Environmental History. 3(1). 43-62.
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KeywordsRanunculus paucifolius; Canterbury high country; New Zealand; native plants; heritage; cultural memory; conservation
ANZSRC Fields of Research21 - History and Archaeology::2102 - Curatorial and Related Studies::210202 - Heritage and Cultural Conservation
05 - Environmental Sciences::0502 - Environmental Science and Management::050202 - Conservation and Biodiversity
21 - History and Archaeology::2103 - Historical Studies::210311 - New Zealand History