How to Donate Seed to the Seed Counter

Magnolia 'Big Dude'

Do you have magnolia seed to offer? We are looking for open-pollinated and wild-collected seed as well as seed from hand crosses. Please consider donating seeds to the Seed Counter this year. Here are guidelines for collecting and processing seeds:

  • 1. Ideally, seeds should be collected just before or just as the seed cones begin to open. Let the seed cones sit in a dry, well-ventilated location. Over a few days they will open fully to reveal the bright orange or red seeds.
  • 2. Remove the seeds from the seed cones and place them in bowls of cool water for 1-3 days to soften the outer seed coat. Once softened, remove the outer seed coats and wash the seeds in mild soapy water to clean off the oily residue. A kitchen colander or large tea strainer is useful for washing and rinsing seeds. Let the seeds dry overnight at room temperature on paper towels, and then place them in a sealable plastic bag preferably with some moist peat moss or moist paper towels. Note: Do not store the seeds dry, as they rapidly lose viability under those conditions. Place them in the refrigerator (not the freezer!). Be sure to keep each seed batch labeled and separate from others to avoid confusion and accidental mixing. Ideally, try to send 200-400 seeds per collection. Smaller batches are valuable also, but may not be placed on the seed list if demand will so outstrip supply that nearly everyone will be disappointed. Such small seed batches are usually sent out as “bonus” seeds with regular seed orders.
  • 3. Please include information about the plant from which you collected the seeds. A precise identity is required, but age, size, and anything unusual about it is also useful. In addition, mention whether there are nearby plants that it might cross with. Mail the seeds to the address below before January 1, 2013.
  • 4. Ship the seeds in plastic bags containing some moist peat moss or moist paper towels. You don’t need lots of peat moss to keep the seeds moist for their journey in the post. Sending seeds from within the USA is simple, but sending seeds from outside the USA is becoming more complicated. If you live outside the USA and wish to send seeds for the Seed Counter, please do so. Despite the proliferation of restrictive regulations, seed packages seem to be getting through so far. If you contact me beforehand, I will send you a sticker for our seed import permit, which you should attach to the outside of the package. This is especially important for larger shipments of more than 500 seeds total.
  • 5. Please send the seeds to:

    Stefan Cover, MSI Seed Counter
    Entomology Department
    MCZ – 26 Oxford Street
    Cambridge, MA 02138

Please contact Stefan Cover [contact form] with any questions. Thanks to all of you in advance for helping the Seed Counter!

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