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botanic seeds

Botanic seeds

To date the takeup on the Pan-European seed-list search system has been disappointing. In February 2008 I posted out 480 letters to Botanic Gardens throughout Europe, but so far I have found just 9 gardens on the web (see below)
It may be that:

  1. Not many of the gardens have web-based Index Semina.This is increasing rapidly
  2. Gardens are anxious to keep their pages ‘Private’Gardens are free to state the conditions under which they will or will not exchange seeds, as well as which organisations they will exchange with.
  3. Gardens do not see the value of such a system. – Until a tipping point of at least 50 gardens is reached, uptake will be slow.
  4. There is confusion about what date is covered by the year “2011” (Current year or next year).This should be the year during which the seed list is valid. i.e. plants collected during the 2011 season will be available for sowing in the year 2012, and the seed list should therefore contain the code word .


Issues of the CBD, in particular those governing Access and Benefit-sharing, Material Transfer Agreements, the International Plant Exchange Network (IPEN), as well as the legal authorization to share seeds are the responsibility of individual gardens, and no garden taking part is obligated to transfer seeds to third parties if they do not wish to do so.

For seed collected during the calendar year 1/1/2013 to 31/12/2013, the code word will be The word must have no characters or punctuation attached at either end.

If your list has some wild collected plant seed use seminumsystem+year and seminumwild+year

If your list has only cultivated plant seed use seminumsystem+year

Both wild collected and/or cultivated plants may be included.

If you have problems with the page not being found by search engines then please submit the URL to various Search Engines, or to myself, and I will create a link to the list from our webpage.
How the system works

The codeword must occur at least once in every file of the on-line seed-list. It can be in the header, a footer or a single footnote. The seed-list can be an HTML file, a text file or a pdf document. In HTML, the word can be visible, as a line on the screen, or hidden in an invisible (i.e. white on white) font.

Botanic seeds A Pan-European seed-list search system Last updated: 1 January 2014 How the system works The system uses a simple code word – seminumsystem+year – to provide a

By growing unique or heirloom cultivars or strains, by increasing stands of beleaguered species, you become a steward of our planet’s botanical riches. Planting from seeds—and saving and sharing those seeds—is a crucial part of the preservation of Spaceship Earth, as the American futurist Buckminster Fuller called the planet.

Starting from seed gives you access to the world’s vast storehouse of edible, ornamental, and wild plants. This fully illustrated, easy-to-use guide includes everything you need to know to collect, store, and grow seeds successfully.

  • From an Indiana gardener willing to share bean and tomato seeds: “An extremely wet spring set planting back 5 weeks, so most of the limas and runners did not mature. I did get about 60 varieties of pole beans and tomatoes planted. All tomatoes have been fermented, washed, and air dried.”
  • An Illinois gardener, who offers seeds of 271 tomato cultivars, adds: “‘Eva Purple Ball’ seed sent out last year may have been crossed or mixed. If you got some, let me know so I can send you a pure sample.”
  • A California gardener explains: “I had a very bad year due to health problems. All requests not filled yet will be filled eventually. I apologize for the delay. Thank you.”
  • From a Maryland gardener offering cowpeas, limas, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes: “To the gentleman who ordered ‘Woods Prolific’ bush lima—I am sorry I lost your letter, so if you will send me your address next spring, I will send you the seed.”
  • A warning from a Mississippi gardener with bean, collard, corn, cowpea, cucumber, eggplant, gourd, millet, mustard, okra, pepper, and squash seeds—156 varieties in all: “Due to two hurricanes, okra plants were laid down and it was impossible to hand-pollinate. May have been some mixing of varieties.”
  • A New Yorker writes: “Does anyone want some garlic escapees from the National Plant Germplasm Center naturalized in Geneva, NY? I gathered seed from flowering stalks. Can send half–sibs if someone has a Mendelian bent.”
  • From an Oklahoma member with collard, melon, mustard, okra, onion, squash, and tomato seeds to share: “I am collecting pink and purple tomatoes. If you have a good one that you would like me to try here in Oklahoma, send a small sample. I will let you know how they did in a hot, dry climate.”

You, too, can expect wonders from seeds. They come in an army of sizes, from the dustlike specks of epiphytic orchids to the 40–pound monsters produced by the double coconut (Lodoicea seychellarum). And in all sorts of forms: the silky tailed seeds of milkweed; the striped or black elliptical seeds of sunflowers; the round, roofed seeds of oaks; the nearly square seeds of corn; the rock-hard round pits of cherries; the ridged oval seeds of carrots; and tens of thousands more.
And what could be more reassuring than this offering from an Indiana gardener and Seed Savers Exchange member: “I suffered two more mini strokes in mid-October, which kept me from harvesting seeds from tomatoes and peppers that I had just picked and boxed to save. I’m just listing one pimento and hoping for a better year.”
There are acres of good reasons to begin with seeds, in addition to the fun of being able to point to mature lilacs or a row of heirloom ‘Black Valentine’ beans and say, “I grew those from seeds.” For one thing, starting plants from seeds is a money–saver: You can pay $5 or more for a six-pack of ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ oriental poppy seedlings, or $5 for a quarter ounce of seeds, enough to produce 25,000 ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ plants.
In 1989, I visited the late Father John Fiala, an amateur hybridizer best known for breeding lilacs and flowering crabapples (his definitive books on those two ornamentals, Lilacs: The Genus Syringa and Flowering Crabapples: The Genus Malus, were published by Timber Press). It was August, and as we walked through his Ohio garden, Father Fiala pulled seed pods off one lilac bush after another: “Try planting them,” he said, “you may get something interesting.”
Nine years may be a longer timetable than you have in mind when you cover a seed with a bit of soil. But my lilac bushes certainly confirm that those brown parchment seeds—looking like tiny dried lanceolate leaves—were remarkable things! The 19th–century American author Henry David Thoreau, no stranger to the natural world, also was impressed: “I have great faith in a seed. . . . Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

Few gardeners take the commitment to protect and maintain our botanical heritage more seriously than do the members of the Seed Savers Exchange and the Flower & Herb Exchange, the largest seed–preservation organizations in the United States. As crucial as this work is, it isn’t a grim undertaking, and among the benefits of being an SSE or F&HE member is the right to purchase or trade for seeds grown by other members.

Starting from seed gives you access to the world’s vast storehouse of edible, ornamental, and wild plants. This fully illustrated, easy-to-use guide includes everything you need to know to collect, store, and grow seeds successfully.