SERA 2018 - Native Seed for Restoration, Challenges and Opportunities

Seeds are an adaptation to survive unfavorable conditions and to disperse in space and in time, thus playing a key part in the assembly and regeneration of existing and future plant communities. Seed-based restoration harnesses the practicality and diversity of these attributes to revegetate, enrich, or conserve plant communities. This is especially true and important as restoration sites worldwide are increasingly altered and degraded by extreme wildfires, invasive species, fragmentation, mining and climate change. For these situations, seed-addition is essential along with management to achieve restoration goals. The native seed sector has advanced in recent decades, however, there are many challenges and opportunities associated with the use of native plant seeds in restoration. This symposium covers best-practices and current research relevant to obtaining seeds for restoration including seed needs assessment, seed sourcing, seed procurement models, seed collection, seed technology, seed innovations, and seeding and deployment.

Building a portable after-ripening bucket for relieving dormancy of small seed batches

By Orville C. Baldos, Joseph DeFrank and Scott B. Lukas

The control of both seed storage temperature and humidity is essential for optimizing dry after-ripening of seeds. Manipulating these factors to process small seed batches often require expensive equipment such as incubators and desiccators. To reduce cost, we have devised a portable after-ripening system made from readily accessible components, such as a 5-gallon (18.93 L) plastic bucket (with a screw top lid), bubble wrap insulation, silica gel-based desiccator and a seed germination heat mat (connected to a thermostat). To assess the storage conditions of the DIY (do-it-yourself) after-ripening system, dried seeds and awns of piligrass (Heteropogon contortus) were placed inside the bucket and stored for 12 months at the 30°C setting of the seed germination heat mat. Temperature and relative humidity during the storage period was monitored using a datalogger (Onset HOBO® UH100). Records obtained from the datalogger indicate that the bucket can maintain an average temperature of 30.92°C (standard deviation = 0.96°C) and an average humidity of 30.81% (standard deviation = 1.89%). A previous study on after-ripening of piligrass indicates that this storage condition falls under the ideal range of storage temperature (30°C) and storage humidities (12% to 50% eRH). Results of the first year of evaluation suggest that the DIY bucket can be used for small-scale after-ripening of piligrass seeds. The potential exists for the modification of the desiccant type and temperature settings to facilitate after-ripening in a greater range of species.

This recorded talk was originally presented as a poster at the National Native Seed Conference, February 13-16, 2017 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C.

Here's the link to download the poster:

The method described in this webinar was effective on tropical species, but might not be suitable for species from a different environment, without adjusting tempeature and humidity parameters. 

From Bird’s Eye to Grass Roots: Implementing the National Seed Strategy

Peggy Olwell, Fred S. Edwards and Sarah Kulpa

This webinar will provide a brief introduction to the National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration through real life, “hands-on” examples of implementation. The 350+-member Plant Conservation Alliance (PCA) released the National Seed Strategy in 2015. It represents an unprecedented partnership effort of national, regional and local public and private collaborators.

Three speakers from three different federal agencies will discuss implementation opportunities and challenges from a national, regional and local perspective. Examples will relate to strategy goals (producing and providing needed seed, conducting research, expanding tools for land managers and communications).

Although stories will primarily focus on work being done in the Great Basin, concepts and practices will be of interest to land managers, conservationists and botanists nationwide.

Presenters Peggy Olwell, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Plant Program Lead, Washington, D.C., and Chair of the Plant Conservation Alliance Federal Committee, will provide an overview of the National Seed Strategy. Fred S. Edwards, Bureau of Land Management - Nevada State Office, will provide a regional perspective from the Great Basin Native Plant Project. Sarah Kulpa, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Restoration Ecologist/Botanist with the USFWS Reno Office, will provide a “grass-roots” perspective, drawing from her work with the University of Nevada – Reno and others to support restoration of local native plant communities.

The Role of networks connecting native seed stakeholders

Marcello De Vitis*, Holly Abbandonato, Costantino Bonomi, Simone Pedrini 

Connecting stakeholders and facilitating the transfer of knowledge is crucial to improve success in ecological restoration. Like the nodes of the ecological networks we aim to restore, those who work with native seeds are connected and dependent on each other for information and resources to address the challenges of seed conservation, research, production and use. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR) and the Native Seed Science, Technology and Conservation Initial Training Network (NASSTEC) are two examples of international networks dedicated to connecting people working on native seeds and facilitating the transfer of knowledge to improve results in ecosystem conservation and restoration. We present the recent activities and outcomes of these two networks. As an on-line network of 420 members in 40 countries, INSR publishes articles about restoration experiences, webinars, and a quarterly e-newsletter; promotes relevant events; posts useful materials and opportunities in seed-based restoration; and hosts a discussion forum about native seeds. As a face-to-face network, INSR organises symposia where stakeholders can learn from each other about the techniques and approaches to restoration challenges. In Europe, where the native seed industry is starting to address seed capacity and policy, NASSTEC conducted a survey to identify the native seed stakeholders, and collect information on the degree of collaboration and networking. Obtaining information about and from the community of users that we are trying to connect and for whom we want to produce useful tools for, is a critical step to effectively direct our resources.

From the flower to the field

Global examples of best-practices for collecting seeds from the wild for use in restoration

Stephanie Frischie, Kingsley Dixon, Cándido Gálvez Ramírez, Stacy Jacobsen, Maria Tudela Isanta, Greg Livovich

Multiple options are available for obtaining seeds to use in restoration and the method of choice will vary depending on project goals and constraints. Seeds collected from natural and spontaneous plant populations are important as restoration seed mixes, foundation seed for establishing production beds, germplasm for developing cultivars, and seed bank accessions for research and ex situ conservation. For most regions and for most species, seed farming is nonexistent, impractical, or insufficient to meet the demand of seeds for restoration. We discuss the range of approaches for obtaining seeds: wild collection, contract collection, in-house production, purchase and the advantages/disadvantages of each. With experiences and practices from around the world, we give practical considerations for making wild collections: planning which species and quantities, locating populations, securing permission, evaluating populations, collecting the seeds, recommendations for tools and field safety. Particular examples come from South America (Bolivia), North America (USA: California, Indiana), and Europe (Spain, Italy). Finally, we review best-practices for seed handling and short-term storage of seeds between collection and deployment.



In Germany, a market for regional seed of native wild plants has been established with an annual trade volume of about 200 t in recent years. In order to meet the demand of Federal Natural Conservation Act to apply from 2020 only such seed in natural surroundings, the market in the next 4 years would need to grow about tenfold. However, reported to the BSA, figures do not show this trend so far and achieving this objective seems difficult. In addition to the requirements imposed by the proliferation of wild plants per se, actual conditions hinder the growers. The legal hurdles are high on one hand (German Regulation for Preservation Mixtures – ErMiV) and on the other hand they do not regulate the total wild seed market. Officially approved quality seals like RegiozertTM and VWWRegiosaatenTM give customers more security, but certification is only prescribed for the ErMiV subject mixtures. These loopholes facilitate the development of an extensive market of Wild Flower Mixtures of uncertain origin with which the more expensive local products have to compete. If politicians and conservationists do not support the market for regional wild plant seed in the next years massively, it will not grow as necessary, because the producers cannot bear all risks alone.

SMOKE: a short story about an ancient phenomenon

Prof. Kingsley Dixon

Prof. Kingsley Dixon

Smoking kills but it is the magic solution for seed germination of many native seeds.  This webinar, presented by Curtin Professor Kingsley Dixon, noted authority on smoke germination, runs through the background and history of this important discovery and the remarkable scientific journey to the discovery of the compounds in smoke that stimulate germination.  The webinar also goes through the step-by-step process for building your own smoke apparatus for treating seed and making smoke water.