Seed Processing Manual goes to 2nd printing

The intention of “Processing Seeds of California Native Plants for Conservation, Storage, and Restoration,” by Michael Wall and John Macdonald might be encapsulated with the well-placed quote in the manual’s brief preface.

The editors selected an excerpt from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s 1961 “Seeds, The Yearbook of Agriculture,” that concludes with an apt description of the humble seed’s purpose—“Seeds are containers of embryonic plants, the embryos of a new generation.” 

The manual, a comprehensive reference for teachers, students and naturalists, offers thorough information on the seeds of hundreds of species of plants native to California and northern Baja California, Mexico, and the processing techniques necessary for successful propagation and long-term seed storage. Although the reference targets a highly selective group of plants, the general techniques are appropriate to other physiologically or taxonomically related species.

But this wealth of information is not just for academics. Using easily understood terms, clear organization and helpful reference sections, it serves to make the information and processes available to all.

The methods, outlined step-by-step and rated by degree of difficulty, were accumulated over the past decade by the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden (RSABG) Seed Conservation Program led by Michael Wall, RSABG seed conservation program manager and curator.

The seed process methods practiced at RSABG and articulated in this guide continue to evolve and the editors invite readers to submit their own techniques that have proved successful in their own trials.

Although the manual is beautifully photographed by RSABG volunteer John Macdonald, the bindery is simple. The three-ring, hard cover binder, with bright, full-color photography throughout, is ideal for reference in the workroom or on the gardening table.

The first edition of “Processing Seeds of California Native Plants for Conservation, Storage, and Restoration” was generously supported by RSABG’s volunteer board and printed in 2009. Limited to 70 copies, the manual flew off the shelves—selling out in less than nine months.

Many national institutions added the volume to their bookshelves. For some such as the U.S. Forest Service Bend Seed Extractory, the book is an obvious match to their mission. Other organizations include the Grand Canyon National Park and Las Vegas Valley Water District. A copy even landed across the Atlantic—purchased for the Kew Library at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Great Britain.

The second printing ends just as the first, with a quote from American ecologist Aldo Leopold, “Conservation is a state of harmony between man and land.” .

Processing Seeds of California Native Plants for Conservation, Storage, and Restoration
By Michael Wall and John Macdonald
2009. Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden. $125.