seed exchanges
Mon, 28 Mar 2016 17:12:29 PDT

As both a donor and recipient of seed from seed exchanges, I have, as Jane mentioned, noticed that some folks don't seem to know how to distinguish good seed from non viable stuff, especially with Asteraceae.  A number of Asteraceae are self infertile and often one clone is in cultivation and propagated by cuttings or division, and from these I get chaff.  Things that come to mind include some felicias and Euryops acreaus.  Then there are the mislabeled seeds, don't always know if its ignorance on the donor's part or purposeful, I suspect misidentification most of the time since I like to think most folks, especially plant folks, are good people.  And I know how common losing a label in the garden is, so I can get confused sometimes about species identities but won't send something into the exchanges unless I am pretty sure of the ID or it goes as a "sp" with whatever description I can give.  There is also misinformation in books too, for example from the UK exchanges Silene 
 caroliniana turns out more often than not to be a European species that isnt all that similar--but look up S pennsylvanica (presumably they meant S caroliniana ssp pennsylvanica) on Chiltern's site (a seed company that is normally quite good and which has nice stuff) and you will see  photo of the impostor.   So someone who grew the plant from mislabeled seed and hasn't seen it in the wild as I have could be forgiven for not knowing its identity.  It would be a good idea for folks on the forums related to the various exchanges to point out which seeds are mislabeled so the chain of mislabeling can be stopped.  It might also be helpful if serial offenders, if there are in fact such folk, are given notice that they need to send in correctly identified and viable seeds or their seeds wont be accepted.
Still despite misidentifications and inviable stuff, the exchanges in general offer a real bargain for those like myself who like to grow stuff from seed.  The fees are very reasonable and the good far outweighs the bad in my experience.  My biggest problem is that I am a seedaholic, when my local NARGS chapter gets the leftovers I can't bear to see them get thrown away so I take what remains (few people in my chapter actually even look thru the leftovers besides myself), select out the weeds or what I detest (sorry, I hate variegated polkweed, so it goes in the garbage) and store them in the fridge. I then plant lots of them each year, and often end up with neat things I would have never thought of growing before. I have also brought seeds down to Wave Hill, and just yesterday the person working with the alpine house plants was showing me the Dracocephalum arguense plants she grew from seed I selected out for her from the extras and raving about how it flowered all last summ
 er and had great fall foliage color.  Some really good things are no doubt thrown away after all is said and done.  
And most of all I really appreciate what the folks who run these exchanges do, its a labor of love and having done some local chapter packing of seed myself I know it takes a lot of work to get done.  
Ernie DeMarie in NY Z6/7 where Crinum bulbispermum is just emerging (but might get frosted back next week) as is C. "Super Ellen", Corydalis solida is in full bloom, along with daffodils, crocus, hyacinths (starting) and various minor bulbs.  

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