Sharing seeds of rare plants

Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:20:48 PST

On Nov 12, 2014, at 7:58 AM, Leo Martin <> wrote:

> Many here overlook that the only concern of a government and its camp
> followers is power: Preserving it and acquiring more.

Leo, for some things in society somebody has to do it. It would be senseless to make an agreement by individual Chinese and American  as recent headline "US and China leaders in 'historic' greenhouse gas emissions pledge" .
For me, I believe we should take care of our ecosystem at least as carefully as we take care of ourselves. For example, now that pollen contamination by gmo crops has become a legal and food safety issue there is concern about contamination of neighboring crops. Relative to  plant propagators we need to also be aware of potential impacts to the ecosystem by our individual actions of plant introduction.   

To me this is a very interesting conversation. Relative to our own native plant propagation and nursery sales our production is determined by our customers needs. Some do not care about seed source but others have very strict standards. I think there is validity in this quote but note also customers have their own standards relative to this dismissal of seed purity standards for reintroduction..  

'Hybridization has been important (1) for the ecology and evolution of plants, (2) as a source of economically important plants (e.g., crops and ornamentals), (3) for biodiversity and unique community interactions, and (4) as a catalyst for speciation in other organisms; conversely, hybridization also poses risks to rare plant species including (1) introgression that reduces genetic diversity, (2) reductions in fitness due to outbreeding depression, (3) contaminating ex situ gene pools for future reintroduction or restoration, and (4) reduced legal protection (Whitham & Maschinski 1996; Soltis & Gitzendanner 1999; Allendorf et al. 2001; Guerrant et al. 2004). Generally, the conservation value of hybrids increases as a function of time since the hybridization event (Travis et al. 2008).

In the United States, interstate commerce and trade involving natural or anthropogenic hybrids of listed plant species is unregulated. As a matter of policy, the FWS considers the intentional hybridization of listed species to be contrary to the purposes of the ESA unless necessary to

Excerpts of Shirey et al. 2013!'' 

As a propagator who reintroduces a native plant into a natural interbreeding population the standard should be do no harm. Equal concern for negative impact to common native plants. Here is a  hands on example for myself. Currently, I'm collecting seed and propagating Lilium columbianum from it's natural range northern Calif to mid BC and east to Idaho. Sea-level to Subalpine. Currently about 20 collections, The first year differences were observed in seed morphology, then germination patterns and growth in their Anderson flats. Sometime a pattern appeared that would might support a hypothesis about diversity of this species. My Columbia Gorge collections however do not show these trends. You might explain this by pre-contact anthropogenic reason as the plant is a foragers food source. It will be interesting to observe these plants in their garden bed side by side over next few years. 

For us, since some customers care about sourcing and others do not  we have developed standards for propagation consistent with our understanding of population biology, ie do no harm. I think a protocol for propagation then redistribution into the wild is needed. Wild sourced seed is different from garden grown collections. I think the ideal standard should be -  to only redistribute plants that have been vegetatively propagated from these wild ss collections. So far as zone migration via climate change we have standards for zone movement in US and Canada. We sell farm grown seed of a few plant species for reintroduction. These clients specify monitoring and separation from neighboring pollen sources. I think this should be a minimum standard for reintroduction. 

Here is a link to an interesting article about assisted migration we republished:

Best wishes 
Richard Haard, Propagation Manager
Fourth Corner Nurseries
Bellingham, Washington, 98226

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