Conservation team travels to Nantahala National Forest

Sophie stands on a rocky, misty mountainside wearing a red vest for seed collection

Our plant conservation technicians, Sophie and Amanda, have made several scouting and seed-collecting trips to the Nantahala National Forest this year for Plant Materials of the Atlantic Southeast (PMAS), our native plant materials development program.

During their first trip to the mountains in July, they identified sites within the forest with healthy populations of the plants they’re targeting. They have then returned to collect sustainable quantities of seed from those sites.

Amanda stands in a field of black-eyed susans, wearing an orange vest for seed collecting

Back at the Garden, our conservation team cleans and stores those seeds — they’ll grow them out for seed increase or plugs, which the U.S. Forest Service will be able to use in conservation and restoration projects. These are especially useful for restoration because they’re local ecotypes: populations of plants that have evolved in a particular site.

So far this year, Sophie and Amanda have started collections from 12 different species, including poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) and basil bee balm (Monarda clinopodia). They’ll be returning again to collect seeds from more species once the seeds are ripe!

White bergamot
Basil bee balm (Monarda clinopodia)
Poke milkweed
Poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

Amanda presses a plant specimen on the side of a roadAmanda collects seed from the side of a mountain

Photos courtesy of Sophie Meng and Amanda Hoffman.