Seed Collection Events

Seed collection events take place at various sites being restored by FMR staff and volunteers. Most participants do not have previous seed collection or restoration experience. A staff ecologist or plant biologist will help you get started and let you know enough about the plants to proceed with confidence.

Volunteer seed collection is vital to FMR's habitat restoration efforts.

Gathering local native seed is vital to FMR's habitat restoration program. Many of our restoration projects require native seed gathered from plants growing within a certain radius, and much of what is gathered by volunteers is unavailable for purchase elsewhere.

Collected seeds are distributed to nearby areas and, depending on the species, will either be planted immediately or stored in cool, moist conditions to mimic the natural conditions that break seed dormancy. Other seeds require greater attention and diligent processing before they are ready for germination as they bear a fleshy fruit covering or shell.

FMR Senior Ecologist Karen Schik frequently leads FMR seed collection events. Here, she points out Prairie Threeawn, a desirable native species.

Prairie seed collection events

Prairie seed collection occurs largely in late summer and autumn, when the seeds are likely to be at their driest. While the native prairie habitats are few, where they do exist many plants grow in great concentrations. In prairie species, seeds are also numerous per plant, making them relatively easy to collect. Generally, they also require less processing. This is partly due to prairie species' adaptation to wind and utilization of wind dispersal.

Most FMR seed collection events take place at the Sand Coulee Scientific & Natural Area, a highly protected natural area that FMR helped to designate and protect and is restoring in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 

 

Wild ginger is a woodland species native to Minnesota.

Woodland seed collection events

Woodland seed collection occurs primarily in late spring and early summer. The types of species at a woodland seed collection grow in the forest understory. These plants, such as wild ginger and bloodroot, depend upon the spring season for growth and seed development, as the leaves of the canopy have yet to emerge and block out the sunshine. While competition for the sunlight is natural for many plant species, we attempt to assist plants dealing with unnatural factors such as invasive species and habitat loss.

We don't have many woodland seed collection events. Woodland species typically generate fewer seeds per plant, and the seeds are typically harder and heavier than prairie seed and require more intensive processing. Many woodland seeds, for example, require an animal to ingest and deposit a seed covering before they are ready for germination. 

What you'll need to bring

Nothing! Gloves, bags and any other necessary tools will be provided.

How much you need to know

Nothing! While we welcome experts just as happily as anyone else, no prior knowledge is required on the subject or proper methods of seed collection. For those that have little or no knowledge, a seed collection event will be an activity to learn from as well as to help in the effort for native plant restoration.

Seed collection typically takes place at the most colorful time of year.

Supervision

Experienced FMR staff will attend seed collection events and give you background information on seed collection techniques, the particular plant(s) being collected from, and natural history about the site. During the event you are free to work alongside staff and other volunteers or to work in a small group with friends or family attending the event with you. If you have any questions or concerns with what you will be doing, you may always ask a staff member or attending biologist for assistance.