A variety (or cultivar) is a set of cultivated plants, clearly distinguishable by their morphological, physiological, chemical and qualitative characteristics. A variety is stable, maintaining is distinctive characteristics even when it reproduces (through seeds or tissue, such as with grafting).
Native or local varieties are well identifiable and usually have a local name. These often arise from selection by individual farmers or communities and are characterized by good adaptation to the environmental conditions of an area. They are consequently more hardy, resistant to stress and have less need for external inputs such as water, fertilizers, etc.. They are closely linked to the culture of a community (customs, recipes, knowledge, dialects). For example, some native varieties are the Carla apple (Italy), brown beans from Öland Island (Sweden), Lorient cabbage (France) and the Akkajidaikon radish (Japan).
In Europe native varieties are normally registered in national registries (and automatically in an official European catalogue), by the ministry, regions or by request of other public entities, scientific institutions, associations or individual citizens and companies (subject to favorable opinion of the region or relevant official body). The varieties are registered after an evaluation period (in Italy this currently is two years). Registration is a form of public protection and different to a patent, which is a private registration that allows a monopoly on the use and sale of the propagation material.