Seed Collection in the Fall and Winter
If working on the trail crew isn’t for you, there’s still a way you can contribute to the work of SMGA while enjoying the outdoors. You can support Team Flora by collecting seed on your own property—or, after receiving the necessary credentials from chair Lance Jones, in the natural areas. (The credential and nametag identify you as a member of Team Flora who has the authority to gather seeds.)
While most of our wildflowers and many shrubs have already produced and dropped their seeds, a number of our natives take advantage of these cooler fall days to flower and set fruit. A very good source for learning to collect, store, and propagate these seeds is Austin-based writer and landscape designer Jill Nokes’ How to Grow Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest, from which most of these instructions are taken.
American Beautyberry: Collect fruit after it has filled out and turned deep purple. Dry with the pulp on before storage. Store between 32-40 degrees.
Alternate method: Smash fruit to release seed and mix with perlite. Spread on potting soil in container when time to plant.
Turk’s Cap: Collect fruit as soon as it is ripe and filled out. Spread on screen to dry. Once dry and shriveled, the pulp will rub off easily. Let seeds dry thoroughly before storing in paper bag.
Evergreen Sumac: Gather seed from late fall until December. Clean in blender fitted with rubber blade. Scarify 30-45 minutes with concentrated sulfuric acid. Plant treated seed immediately.
Sunflower Goldeneye: After seed head has dried, you may (1) shake seed onto drop cloth, (2) remove entire seed head, or (3) break off stems and place in paper bag. Wearing gloves is advised. Keep seed dry until planting. Viguiera dentata can be sown in sun or part shade. Note: You may want to let the dried plant and seeds remain through the winter, as the seeds are enjoyed by many bird species.
Written by Susan Hanson, a member of the SMGA board and chair of the Outreach Committee.