F7 Collecting and storing tree seeds

  • Make it a habit to carry some bags or old envelopes with you so you are always ready to collect seed from good trees.
  • Collect only fully ripened seed from strong healthy trees. Take seeds from the best examples of the tree available. Seeds in pods or fruits need to be removed. With sticky fruits like tamarind, prosopis and balanites they need to be either eaten or soaked in water before the seeds can be removed and dried.
  • Seed must be very well dried before storing. Use clear labels. Some seeds, especially those that are very hard, may stay good for many years. However some soft seeds such as neem or kei apple only keep for a few weeks. Use fresh seed whenever possible.

Discussion

  • What are the characteristics of a good seed tree? This will depend on people’s reasons for growing trees. For example, a tree with good fruit will provide a good fruit tree and a tall straight tree will provide good timber.
  • Discuss what kinds of containers are available which would be useful for storing seed. They need to be clean, dry and able to keep out air and damp. Some ideas include jars, tins, plastic containers, plastic bags or gourds.
  • As a group, prepare suitable containers and labels. Then, if possible go out and collect some seeds. You can only do this at certain times of the year for most tree species. Allow the seeds to dry well before putting them in the containers.
  • What sources of tree seeds do participants know about? These may include the Forestry Department, the Ministry of Agriculture or local NGOs. If you are unable to find seeds in your country for the trees you want, small samples of some seeds can be obtained from: 
    • ECHO – 17391 Durrance Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33917, USA E-mail: echo@echonet.org Fax: +941 543 5317
    • HDRA – Centre for Organic Gardening, Ryton on Dunsmore, Coventry, CV8 3LG, UK.