Seed Storage Initiative Update
by Cathy Davenport
As the MNBG Seed Storage Technician, I am responsible for maintaining our Seed Bank and managing native Hawaiian seed storage projects. Seeds have fascinated me since I was a child with my own gardens. To just add water, and watch life emerge is profound. The variety of seed sizes, shapes, and dispersal mechanisms is endless. I love the work and even enjoy counting ‘Ōhi‘a lehua seeds, which are the size of an eyelash. It is meditative. To have a forest worth of ‘Ōhi‘a lehua seed on my worktable is humbling. At MNBG we are so very fortunate to have volunteers that do much needed work. To have many minds working on a project has helped us brainstorm and problem solve some seed processing challenges.
Our Seed Bank shares a role in conservation, restoration and protection of native species. In this way whole ecosystems can be safeguarded, species by species, to preserve genetic diversity and battle extinction. We focus on the four islands of Maui Nui, usually coastal species, storing seed from native wild plants (not planted by humans). Storing seed of the beloved ‘Ōhi‘a lehua (Metrosideros sp.) is one of our top priorities. Our seed collection and seed processing protocol are in accordance with standards used at Lyon Arboretum. We facilitate projects important to a variety of organizations. Seed we store is owned by the organization, unless they state otherwise. The organization has control over who, and when, the seed can be released. They determine the purpose of the seed.
Fortunately, MNBG can continue to collect seed during Covid-19 restrictions with mitigation protocol. MNBG limits the number of staff, they travel in separate cars, wear masks and keep a safe distance while collecting seed. Another option is for the organization to bring us the seed they collected.
This year 2020 has been a difficult time for the world. Funding for the MNBG Seed Storage Technician is threatened by the economic changes brought by COVID-19 and we are looking for new funding to support this project. The seeds, however, are safely stored for many years.
Stay safe everyone, take care of each other, and we will get through this.