Wednesday 13 July 2016

Collecting seed for the Millenium Seed Bank

Hypopitys monotropa
Image: P. Stroh
Some of you have been kind enough to say how much you are enjoying the recent updates from BSBI's Science Team, which have been shown in full on the BSBI Science page here with headlines on the News page here

These updates give you an idea of what BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker and BSBI Scientific Officer Pete Stroh have been up to recently.

Pete's most recent update will appear on those pages in summary but it includes an interesting offer so here it is in full: 

Pete says "As a break from writing, catching up on emails, attending meetings, doing the occasional bit of square bashing, etc., I made time last week to target the collection of seed for Kew as a part of their Millennium Seed Bank project. 

Luzula pilosa
Image courtesy of John Crellin/Floral Images
"The BSBI have been tasked with gathering samples of seed for a select list of species, and I sought out Hairy Wood-rush (Luzula pilosa) and Yellow Bird's-nest (Hypopitys monotropa) as there are recent records for both relatively close to my home.

"The job isn't quite as easy as it sounds, as you have to first find the target species, often easiest when in flower, and then return at a later date when you think the seed will be ripe. This involves not only relocating the plants, but also hoping that the fruits have not been eaten in the intervening weeks or months (or blown away in the wind - Spotted Cat's-ear (Hypochaeris maculata) is another one I plan to collect later this week). 

Luzula pilosa in close-up
Image courtesy of John Crellin/Floral Images
"Despite heavy deer browsing I managed to find enough seed of Luzula pilosa, and then moved on to the Hypopitys. 

"I find this plant infuriatingly difficult to locate, but after mentally throwing in the towel after an hour of searching in a nearby beech woodland, I then immediately stumbled across 30+ spikes. The seeds won't be ripe for a good couple of weeks yet, but I will certainly remember the location. 

"Collecting seed for the Millenium Seed Bank is very rewarding, and we are looking for folk to help. As the work is funded by Kew we can offer to pay for fuel. 

If you are interested in being involved, please contact BSBI Head of Science Kevin Walker for more info."

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