Botanic Gardens and Seed Exchanges

Boyce Tankersley
Thu, 08 Sep 2011 07:04:39 PDT
Hi All:

As several threads have indicated, the role of botanic gardens has changed
when it comes to distribution of seeds/excess plants.

At Chicago Botanic Garden we chose to discontinue the *Index Seminum* due to
concerns some of our scientists studying invasive species had - that seeds
of our native plants would become invasive in other parts of the world (and
they provided some examples to illustrate their point).

The other concern expressed with seeds from *Index Seminum* is that a
majority of them were collected from plant s in cultivation.  The female
parent is known but in many cases the seedlings were hybrids with other
species.  In  my home garden that may not be an issue but in a living museum
the idea of passing off a hybrid as an exemplar of the species was very
troubling and creates major problems with captive breeding efforts to
generate seeds for re-introduction.

While we still receive *Index Seminum* from other botanic gardens their
numbers have been drastically reduced over the last ten years.  In some
cases because of budget cuts and staffing shortages but in many cases due to
concerns related to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and
invasive plants.

Fortunately Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum do have a
mechanism for making rare and unusual ornamental plants available through a
partnership with commercial nurseries called the Chicagoland Grows(TM)
program.  A portion of the proceeds are returned to the Garden/Arboretum to
help support on-staff plant breeders and plant collection trips.
 Unfortunately, none of the participating nurseries are really focused on
producing geophytes but excess bulbs/plants are frequently offered for sale
through the CBG 'A Rare Affair' auction offered every 2 years.  If folks on
this list are interested, I can send a list of geophytes in 2013 that will
be offered for auction in early June of that year - I believe we have, or
are trying, to implement ways that people who can't physically attend the
auction can bid by email/text. Proceeds usually are dedicated to supporting
one or more of the Gardens Science and Education programs.

Boyce Tankersley
Director of Living Plant Documentation
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022


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