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.

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.

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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

“The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.”

—E. O. Wilson
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What Causes Rarity?

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

Download report