6 million seeds saved for the future

 Wafer ash seeds.

Wafer ash seeds.

Development, habitat destruction and climate change place native plants and the food webs that depend on them in danger. Storing seeds is a way to conserve native plants for future generations.

The Wildflower Center served as the Texas representative in the Millennium Seed Bank, a global conservation project overseen by the UK’s Royal Botanic Garden, Kew. All told, two staff conservationists, 100-plus volunteers and botany colleagues collected and stored 6 million seeds of 600 native species that form the backbone of Texas landscapes. Center conservationists continue to work with state agencies, private landowners and others to set aside seeds for what could be hundreds of years as part of the national Seeds of Success project.

With 11 ecoregions and more than 268,000 square miles in the state, seed collecting in Texas is no small feat. An emphasis is placed on high-priority species for restoration projects, with seeds collected and processed for safekeeping at a national facility in Colorado and at the Center’s own seed bank. 

Current seed collecting efforts are focusing on Texas ash trees - threatened by the invasive emerald ash borer beetle - and Texas native milkweeds that are critical for monarch butterflies.