Collecting seeds to save plants
Today, 60,000 to 100,000 types of plant are faced with the threat of extinction. We all rely on plants for food. Plants also provide us with clean water, medicines, and the air we breathe.
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership aims to save plants world wide with a focus on plants most at risk and most useful for the future. We collect the seed of plant species under threat and from habitats at risk around the world. We aim to secure the safe storage of 25% of the world’s plants by 2020. Read some of our seed-collecting stories.
Discover more about how we collect seeds in the field and prepare them for safe-keeping.
Collecting high quality seeds for long term conservation needs to be carried out carefully. Thorough preparation is essential. This includes getting permission from local land owners.
Seed collection expeditions
Where communications are good and the native flora is well known, such as in the UK, one or two-day collecting trips can be long enough to collect enough seeds. In more remote areas, we organise joint collecting expeditions with our partner organisations. These seed collecting trips can often last for one to two weeks.
Identifying seeds and assessing quality
Target plant species are identified in the field, and our collectors assess if it is possible to harvest enough high-quality seeds for conservation. This is important to ensure the genetic diversity of plant species at that location are represented in the seed bank.
Seed collection techniques
Our seed conservationists in the field collect seeds and specimens using the most appropriate method for each and every plant species.
Recording seed collecting data
Throughout the collection process scientific data about the seeds we collect is recorded. This data tells us important information about the seeds we collect and their native environment. We share this information to help further scientific research.
Caring for seed collections
The seeds and specimens we collect are carefully handled and prepared for transporting to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank and Herbarium.
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