Monday 27 July 2015

National Tree Seed Project

Kew Botanic Gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank are coordinating the UK National Tree Seed Project. This project funded by players of People's Postcode Lottery aims to collect thousands of seeds from across the UK for long term conservation and research.

 We've got on board to collect local provenance seeds in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway and will be collecting thousands of seeds from a  variety of different species ranging from wild raspberry to oak. We'll need volunteers, so please get in touch if you'd like to be part of this project!

Our role in the great seed project began with a training day at the Trees for Life, Dundreggon Estate.

We covered the methods involved, including bio-security, assessing populations, sampling strategies and collecting techniques.

This is us assessing the potential seed yield from a patch of blackthorn. You're looking to take no more then 20% of the total seeds, and with 10,000 seeds as an ideal collection per site, this needs to be checked out in advance! 

Seed viability is also important, if the seed is infested with insects or diseased it won't be much use in the bank. This is easier to check on cherries or sloes but more tricky on small seeds like birch

Luckily there's some tricks..involving sellotape

and patience to cut them in half 

To ensure genetic variety, trees need to be selected at random and collections made from the top branches as well as the lower ones! This requires throw lines or a very long pruning saw!

and for each species at each site, a herbarium specimen needs to be taken

Dundreggon Estate was an incredible place to be for a few days with interesting plants, fungi, orchids and even wild boar (in an experimental enclosure!)
Breakfast time!

Fox moth
Orange birch bolete

Great sundew

Looking forward to collecting those seeds!

Community and Education Officer


  1. Thanks for your information. I appreciate your blog post, beautifully expressed and well written.

  2. Great that you are part of this national project!