Native Plant Trust

Banking Seeds

Saving the Seeds of New England's Rare Plants

Conserving biodiversity for the future

Today, 17 percent of New England's native plant species are on the brink of being lost—and another 5 percent have already disappeared from the region. With threats to our native plants accelerating, and a changing climate creating even more stress on imperiled species, seed banking is a critical strategy for ensuring the preservation of genetic diversity and for potentially reintroducing species to the wild

Our goal is to collect and preserve seeds from most populations of the 389 globally and regionally rare species in New England in accord with the goals of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. With our well-established protocols and decades of experience, we are the only organization in our region able to lead an initiative of this scope.

To contribute seeds or discuss related questions, contact Dr. Jessamine Finch:

Please donate to endow our seed bank.

How We Bank Seeds

Priorities and protocols

We give priority to banking the seeds of species that exist in only a few locations, are declining rapidly, or are not currently protected. We must obtain the appropriate state or federal permits and landowner permission to collect seeds. The strict guidelines for collecting ensure that we do not harm the reproductive potential of the population. We clean and dry the seed and store it in a freezer at -18°C. At regular intervals, we then test the viability of the stored seed and re-collect, if necessary.

spruce-fir habitat cover image PDReport

How to Save Plant Diversity

Conserving Plant Diversity in New England, our groundbreaking report produced in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, provides a scientific framework and detailed roadmap for conservation action and land protection at the species, habitat, and parcel scales to save plant diversity—and thus overall biodiversity—as the climate changes.

Learn More
Nasami garden plant seedlings

The Northeast Seed Network is a project of Native Plant Trust and several New England partner organizations to grow common native plants in seed-increase plots, or seed-producing gardens. Seed from these plots will be used in ecological restoration projects and by nurseries to grow plants for sale. This network is distinct from our rare species seed bank.

Learn about the Northeast Seed Network
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What Causes Rarity?

Read our in-depth technical report on this and other topics.

Download report