Collect Seeds

Collecting Seeds for Conservation

  • Choose seeds from the healthiest trees in a large gene pool. Preferably collect the seeds from each tree in a separate bag.
  • Identify the plant, its location and the date on each bag – keeping good records is important so consider weather proof labels.
  • Branches from at least halfway up the tree/crown are more viable that those lower down.
  • To avoid deterioration keep seeds well ventilated but away from direct sunlight and avoid temperatures of over 35C. Small nylon bags are ideal.
  • Consider your equipment when collecting – take enough bags, a permanent marker, a bag to carry them and any other tools you may need such as pruning clippers.
  • Organize your collection teams to take different routes to sample a larger area. Consider what form of transportation is used when in remote areas.
  • If collecting from private land, please seek permission before doing so.


Different seeds need to be handled differently with regards to drying and storage.

Please get in touch with a member of the Free Tree Society beforehand so that someone is ready to receive your seeds soon after collection to maintain their viability.


The 3 ways volunteers can collect tropical seeds are via ‘natural seed fall’ and ‘manual shaking’ and ‘cutting’.

  • Natural seed fall: This involves collecting seeds that have fallen to the ground. Volunteers must pay close attention to the quality off the seeds and discard those that are immature, unsound, empty or that have already started germinating. Hard coated seeds are best.
  • Manual Shaking: Branches with seeds can be shaken by hand or, if higher up, by knocking with a pole. Many seeds of good viability can be collected using this method. Sacks can be opened beneath the branch for ease of collection.
  • Cutting: Clipping or sawing fruit laden branches, especially those in high places, can collect a large amount of viable seeds.


Pre-cleaning – discard seeds from twigs, leaves and other impurities by hand.