Seed Banking & Ecology
Seed banking – also called ex situconservation – is a means of storing the genetic diversity of plants off-site and apart from the natural environment. The Garden’s seed banking program has been in operation for over 45 years, with some of our oldest conservation seed collections dating back to 1982. Our seed bank holds seeds of both rare and common species in short term and long-term storage.
Our rare plant seed bank protects and conserves over 500 individual accessions representing 72 different species and continues to grow through our collection and curation efforts. Through our ongoing work, we strive to conserve the most imperiled plants in our region. Currently we are working with the Center for Plant Conservation, the NC Natural Heritage Program and the NC Plant Conservation Program to make collections of Sarracenia purpurea var. montana (Mountain purple pitcher plant), Phemeranthus piedmontanus (Piedmont fameflower), and Gaylussacia orocola (Blue Ridge bog huckleberry) all of which have only a few populations left in the world. The goal of these projects and all of our rare plant seed banking is to offer a safeguard to extinction in the wild and to offer material for use in research and restoration.
The Garden also collects and banks seeds of common plants – typically for more immediate use for public distribution, horticultural display plantings, the daily plant sale, and for ecological restoration. In 2005, NCBG began a partnership with the Seed of Success and Millennium Seed Bank to collect and store seeds of common species from throughout the Southeastern United States. The in 2015, we furthered our partnership beginning Seeds of Success East with partners from the Bureau of Land Management, Chicago Botanic Garden, The Native Plant Trust, and the Mid-Atlantic Seed Bank. Through these efforts, Garden staff have collected and banked millions of native seeds of common species from the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic States with the goal of improving native plant restoration. As a result of these efforts, NCBG was awarded a Partners in Conservation Award from the Department of the Interior.