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Gathering 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.

2011 Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Trees – Footsteps 85

How to look after trees and make the most of the many benefits they bring

Image: Rod Mill

Image: Rod Mill

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. Sticky fruits like tamarind need to be 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.

Text adapted from Agroforestry– A PILLARS Guide, published by Tearfund . The Guide explains how to prepare a tree nursery, how to sow seeds, how to care for seedlings and how to plant out successfully. See the Resources page for more information. 

Group activity

  • 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. The ideal time of year to collect seeds varies depending on the tree species. Allow the seeds to dry well before putting them in the containers.
  • What sources of tree seeds do people know about? These may include the Forestry Department, the Ministry of Agriculture or local NGOs.

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