Seed and Bulb Excanges, some Comments

Boyce Tankersley
Fri, 14 Jul 2006 06:56:11 PDT
Hi All:

Very good comments and discussion by everyone on this topic. 

From time to time I request seeds on behalf of Chicago Botanic Garden
from the PBS seed and bulb exchange. In return, I've offered up
seeds/bulbs that were excess from the Garden's program in return.
Invariably the staff member on whose behalf I've requested the plant
propagules contacts the donor directly to obtain the passport
information (wild collected or from plants in cultivation?; location and
environmental conditions, etc.).

I also request seeds or bulbs for my own personal use at home. The
information provided by Dell and/or the donors is sufficient.

The issue of rare and endangered is much less clear. At Chicago Botanic
Garden we have plants that were obtained before they were listed as
being of conservation concern. Because our collections are documented,
if we chose to we could approach the US Fish and Wildlife Service for a
permit to legally propagate and sell them - we haven't; but legally we

A number of taxa are of conservation concern in their native habitats
but are relatively wide spread in cultivation - a couple of well known
examples include trees like Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Ginkgo biloba,
Araucaria araucana, etc.

To muddy the waters even further, some taxa are of limited distribution
(of conservation concern) in one political unit (country, province,
state) but widespread in a neighboring political unit (not listed of
conservation concern). This is particularly noticeable in the USA where
one state will list a taxa as being of conservation concern but not the
surrounding states.

If there is even a remote chance the plants may be useful at anytime in
the future for conservation or reintroduction purposes I suggest
documenting the provenance as completely as possible - even if this
means contacting donors privately offline to obtain the information. As
an example, seeds of Sophora toromiro were donated to Missouri Botanical
Garden by a relative of a Chilean diplomat long before RBG Kew began
efforts to begin a captive breeding program to reintroduce it into its
native range. Without the information provided by the donor at the time
of donation no one would have suspected these plants were unique and
highly valuable.

Boyce Tankersley
Manager of Living Plant Documentation
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
tel 847-835-6841
fax 847-835-1635

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