Conventional Seed Banking to Support Species Survival in the Wild

Photo of plant conservationist in the field

  1. The Difference between Orthodox, Intermediate, and Recalcitrant Seed
    Christina Walters and Joyce Maschinski
  2. Collecting Seeds from Wild Rare Plant Populations
    Joyce Maschinski, Christina Walters, Ed Guerrant, Sheila Murray, Michael Kunz, Heather Schneider, Jim Affolter, Tony Gurnoe, Naomi Fraga, Kay Havens, Pati Vitt, Katherine D. Heineman, and Christa Horn
  3. Splitting Samples for Safety Duplication Storage and Testing
    Joyce Maschinski, Christina Walters, Kim McCue, David Remucal, James Ritchie, Evan Meyer, Robert Wesley, Michael Way, Suzzanne Chapman, Ryan Fitch, Rowan Blaik, Kay Havens, Pati Vitt, and Christa Horn
  4. Cleaning, Processing, Drying, and Storing Orthodox Seeds
    Christina Walters, Joyce Maschinski, Kay Havens, Pati Vitt, Katherine D. Heineman, and Christa Horn
  5. Curating Small Samples: Increasing the Number of Seeds for Storage and Restoration
    Joyce Maschinski, Christina Walters, Kris Haskins, Cheryl Birker, Johnny Randall, Lesley Randall, Kirstie Watkins, Margaret Clark, Joe Davitt, Kay Havens, Pati Vitt, and Christa Horn


Seeds from Field to Freezer

Part 1 outlines ex situ conservation actions for seeds of species that are capable of being stored at freezing temperatures. These steps are intended to increase the likelihood that the valuable rare species seeds we collect, process, and store have sufficient viability and longevity in storage to be available for future reintroductions to the wild.



  • Review species’ details.
  • Obtain permission.
  • Determine storage potential.

Capture Diversity

  • Collect from 50 plants and up to 3000 seeds.
  • Collect 5+ populations across the species’ range.
  • Maintain maternal lines separately.
  • Collect no more than 10% of seed crop in any year and no more than 5 out of 10 years.
  • Collect from all individuals if population is extremely threatened.


  • Record and share data.


Duplicate for Safety

  • Divide seeds from maternal lines for curation and storage packages to be held at two facilities.

Keep Seeds Alive

  • Evaluate initial seed condition and after years in storage.
  • Seed moisture drops when seeds are moved from room temperature to cold temperatures.
  • Dry seeds to moisture target that maintains < 25% RH > 10% RH at the intended storage temperature.


Small Collections

  • Plan to collect seeds across multiple years.
  • Germinate, grow, and collect next generation seeds for storage.

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Suggested Citation

Center for Plant Conservation. Conventional Seed Banking to Support Species Survival in the Wild in CPC Best Plant Conservation Practices to Support Species Survival in the Wild. Web Version. Accessed: 01/15/2021 - 1:15pm