The listings appear as follows: seed number, genus, species, descriptive information, collection site (for wild collected seed) and donor number. Descriptions are generally taken from various floras or other reliable references unless donor gave a much different description, in which case that donation will be listed separately with the donor’s description. If more than one color is possible and the donor did not specify color, it may be listed as “mix” or listed under the typical color for the species. Height listed is usually the normal range for plant in bloom unless another measurement is considered important for garden placement. Donor lists by number and name (with donor’s location) appear at the end of the list of seeds.
v = variety
f = forma
ex = parent plant derived from
flr = flower
frt = fruit
lvs = leaves
/ = and/or (i.e. red/blue = red and blue OR red or blue)
- = to (i.e. yellow-orange, 3-5cm = yellow to orange, 3 to 5 centimeters)
> = more than three donors
(aff) = related to, but not that species*
(cf) = compare to, similar to species, may be that species*
(ex) = descended from - may differ from parent plant
(hort) = of garden - name not botanically valid; or for plants commonly grown under this name in horticulture
(nv) = name not verified in references/not a valid name*
(op) = open-pollinated (may differ from parent plant)
(hp) = hand-pollinated (should resemble parent plant)
(PI) = Potentially Invasive: do not allow to self sow
* Please try to verify/identify species before passing on the resulting seeds or plants from these seeds.
cm = centimeter to in. = inches
2.5 cm ~ 1 in.
10 cm ~ 4 in.
15 cm ~ 6 in.
25 cm ~ 10 in.
30 cm ~ 12 in. = 1 ft.
100 cm = 1 m ~ 40 in. = 3 ft. 4 in.
m = meter to ft. = feet
305 m ~ 1000 ft
1000 m ~ 3300 ft.
1500 m ~ 5000 ft.
2500 m ~ 8200 ft.
4000 m ~ 13,100 ft.
(Note: ~ means approximately equal to)
Unfortunately, plant names change on a regular basis and many seeds are submitted with old or obsolete names. The seed list incorporates many updated names. If a particular plant name cannot be found, it may be listed under a different name. To help with finding some of these changes you can download or print out the Species Name Changes pdf found on the Downloadable Seed Lists Files page
Every year I check my online resources to ensure I am using the most current name for the seeds I receive. I generally don't make the switch to a new name unless there is agreement from several sources, but often some other reliable current source still favors the old name or sometimes even offers up a third option for the name. It can get very confusing and I will be the first to admit to a bias against changing certain names even though the "authorities" have. (Hepatica will always be Hepatica for me!)
Among the resources used for plant names are: Plants Of The World Online is the latest, most up-to-date source, from KEW Science; World Flora Online: A Project of the World Flora Online Consortium; The Plant List which was a collaboration between Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the Missouri Botanical Garden (no longer updated); the USDA's GRIN and PLANTS Database; Missouri Botanical Garden's Tropicos; and RHS Horticultural Database . For descriptions, I use the various online Floras at efloras.org which includes Flora of North America, Flora of China, Flora of Pakistan and Ornamental Plants From Russia; as well as the AGS Encyclopedia of Alpines from our sister organization, among other resources.
Nomenclature questions can be addressed to the Seed Intake Manager using the Contact Us link in the top menu, Category: Seed Exchange.
We recognize that a number of seeds are best sown fresh, rather than dry-stored. These include SOME members of the genera Aconitum, Actaea, Adonis, Anemone, Anemonella, Asarum, Callianthemum, Caltha, Corydalis, Cyclamen, Dicentra, Disporum, Dryas, Epimedium, Eranthis, Erythronium, Galanthus, Glaucidium, Hacquetia, Helleborus, Hepatica, Hylomecon, Jeffersonia, Kirengeshoma, Lysichiton, Meconopsis, Mertensia, Paris, Ranunculus, Salix, Sanguinaria, Saruma, Shortia, Stylophorum, Thalictrum, Tiarella, Trillium, Trollius, and Uvularia. Currently, imported seed cannot be packed in vermiculite, but we receive some of these ephemeral seeds packed in damp vermiculite from USA members and will distribute them to members if a phytosanitary certificate is not required. We will also continue to offer any dry-stored seed we receive, as these seeds are usually still viable, but may take longer to germinate.
If the listing states that it is (moist packed), then the seed is in a small plastic bag with slightly damp vermiculite to keep the seed fresh. The packets will be clearly marked as containing vermiculite but non-US members should make certain that such packing will clear their import inspection process. Occasionally the seed will begin germinating in the damp vermiculite, so carefully empty the contents into a prepared seed pot and cover with a little additional compost and treat as you do your other seed pots outdoors. Most of these seeds will need a full year of cold/warm cycles to germinate - but some may still take longer to emerge. See Kristl Walek‘s article in the Summer 2007 Rock Garden Quarterly for more about how to handle ephemeral seed. We are very pleased to be able to offer ephemeral seed packed this way and hope US donors will try this method of retaining the viability of ephemeral seeds that they donate.
Some seeds are sent in with cultivar names (capitalized and in single quotes). To save space we do not usually insert "ex" before these cultivar names, but it is important that you do not label or represent the resulting plants as the named cultivar, or donate seeds as such. Think of the cultivar as the plant that produced the seed, not what the seeds are going to produce.
All seeds are from open-pollinated plants (unless it is marked "hp"=hand-pollinated) and may have hybridized with other species. It is also possible that some seed may be incorrectly identified, primarily from seeds that have long circulated in seed exchanges. When your plants finally bloom, please try to verify identity BEFORE distributing the resulting seeds or plants to others. There are several online forums where you can ask for help in identifying your plants if you cannot find it in books or on the internet.