fall seed sorting

It’s harvest time. Not just for pumpkins, soybeans, and corn. Many native grasses and wildflowers have mature seeds ready for the picking.

It’s a big job, so we always appreciate some help.

Ancilla College students lending a hand

Seeds are picked according to species (carefully!), dried, and stored.

Fresh seeds of Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

“Letting nature take it’s course” is a common refrain. As a rule, there are many that are worse. But it’s not a good excuse for being scientifically lazy. What we do know is that humans, as they’ve been doing for thousands of years, have an active – not passive – role to play in managing landscapes. We can do it foolishly or wisely. Seed collection, mixing, and planting allows us to help usher in diverse communities of native plants that would not otherwise be present, even with many decades (or centuries) of waiting.


Maria Center residents and staff helping with seed cleaning.

When native seeds are collected, there are unwanted pods and chaff that it is helpful to remove. In order to “make hay while the sunshines,” we don’t often have time to do that in the field… it’s more effective to just get the seeds inside and dry before they fall to the ground.

This leaves rainy day work to be done. I appreciate having help from the residents of our independent living community, the Maria Center.


Think you extract the Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) seeds without sending the feathery pappus flying? Good luck!

Seeds are organized by species and stored in a cool, dark place.

Lots of future Monarch butterflies… we hope!

The next step is creating custom mixes of seeds based on soil type and land management goals. Sow during the dormant season. Then do it again!


2 Replies to “fall seed sorting”

  1. Sr. Shirley

    Lots of well-worth it-work to bolster the environment and spread the beauty all around. Nice seeing the photos and extra hands that helped especially my sister in Maria Center!! All the best!!

  2. Marcy

    Amazing. May be something to keep in mind as real work for the kids if I ever get a Montessori school going. The primary age group are generally in a sensitive period for tiny objects…


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