Seed and Bulb Excanges, some Comments

Lee Poulsen
Fri, 14 Jul 2006 10:28:12 PDT
On Jul 14, 2006, at 6:56 AM, Boyce Tankersley wrote:
> Hi All:
> Very good comments and discussion by everyone on this topic.
> 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
> could.
> 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.

I agree--a good discussion.
But I guess I side with Ron, at least in saying that I haven't yet 
heard some really good reasons why seeds of rare and endangered species 
should not be grown by hobbyists. If it were the case that, like 
wild-collected bulbs or orchids themselves, the supply of seeds were 
also being decimated and wiped out by overcollection, then I would 
agree with not sharing them (unless they were from plants already in 
the public domain). Because, one, if it is that rare and there are that 
many people purchasing the seeds to grow them, then it would seem that 
sooner rather than later, there would be a bunch of people around the 
world growing and then further propagating that species. And two, I 
find it hard to imagine a scenario where all the seed of a species was 
being collected and yet no one was furthering the increase of the 
plants in captivity and the species thereby went extinct. (Which is 
just a twist on my first reason.)

Boyce names several species that ARE being grown in cultivation and 
don't appear to be in danger of extinction in that arena. Another one I 
know about is Tecophilaea cyanocrocus which was thought for a long time 
to be completely extinct in its native habitat although a small 
population of them has since been re-discovered. However, it can be 
purchased for a price from nurseries and people literally all over the 
world. A number of us grow it as well, and it's not that difficult to 
grow. And yet, someone like Osmani Baullosa, who lives in Chile, and 
has been offering a large number of spectacular native Chilean bulbs 
and other plants, cannot find or get hold of either seed or bulbs 
anywhere in his country. They are completely unavailable to him there. 
But I'm certain they would grow as easily for him in cultivation as, or 
more likely *more* easily than, they grow for me. So in this case, I 
think a Chilean like Osmani might actually be glad that this native 
extremely rare and endangered beauty is being grown by hobbyists and 
nurseries elsewhere so he can have the opportunity to grow it himself 
some day. And maybe even possibly help in restoring it to its native 
habitat. (I am uninformed on this, so I don't know if there are 
programs in place already trying to re-introduce it into more of its 
habitat. Certainly, Chilean hobbyists and ordinary gardeners can't 
obtain it from their local nurseries.)

--Lee Poulsen
Pasadena, California, USDA Zone 10a

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