Maui Nui Botanical Gardens’ Seed Bank

“Seed banking” means long-term seed storage, using a variety of techniques to protect seed viability. Seed banks use the least amount of space, money, and effort to ensure that wild plant populations are adequately backed up in case of a population decline or extinction. Seeds of some species, if stored properly, can remain viable for decades. This can buy valuable time for land managers who are trying to protect rare plant populations from threats such as invasive animals. In the case of forest fires, seed banking of large amounts of common native species can assist in restoration. Global warming and sea level rise makes MNBG's location critical because currently, the vast majority of seed banks in Hawaii focus upon high elevation species; there is no other facility with an emphasis on coastal native plant seed storage in Hawaiʻi.

We are part of this important work.

Seed Storage Technician Cathy Davenport packaging seeds after drying
Kits used in the field for ʻŌhiʻa seed collection.

We began our seed storage efforts in 2015 by training with seed conservation programs at Lyon Arboretum, the O‘ahu Army Natural Resources Program, the National Tropical Botanical Garden, and the Hawai‘i Island Seed Bank. These organizations, along with research partners National Center for Germplasm Resources Protection in Colorado and Royal Botanic Gardens Kew Millennium Seed Bank in the UK, are the founding partners of the Hawaiʻi Seed Bank Partnership. This program was made possible by support from 2015-2020 by the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority (@hawaiihta) Aloha ‘Āina Program.

Interested in volunteering to help us sort and process seeds? We provide socially distanced volunteer opportunities that are suitable for high school ages and above. Please contact us at 249-2798 for more information. A special mahalo to the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation for supporting our seed storage volunteer program.