Collecting Protocol

We are so very excited that you are a willing and passionate wild seed collector. We ask that you follow these protocols and steps to ensure positive wild native plant identification and to not endanger current native plant species populations.

Your efforts are considered voluntary, but we offer a gift of 6 pollinator plants, from Northeast Pollinator Plants, mix and match, your choice, for each successful species collection.  This offer is only for seed-collecting efforts with prior email/written approval by the coordinator, as described below.


  • Positively identify the plants. Refer to a trusted dichotomous plant key such as:
  • Ensure the plant is not rare or endangered in your county.  It is a crime to collect such.  Biota of North America Program (BONAP) – North America Plant Atlas (NAPA).
  • Ensure these plants are indeed wild, not garden plants, potentially brought from a different eco-region and planted; perhaps the landowner can assist.
  • Ensure there are no cultivars of this (these) species growing within 1600 feet (about a ¼ mile).  I know, this will be nearly impossible, do some walking/driving around, but no illegal trespassing please…
  • Contact the current Northeast Wild Seed Collector coordinator, Jane Sorensen, via email,, when you believe you have found plants that are identified in the Seeds Needed list.  If the coordinator ensures positively that seeds are indeed still needed of this species, let’s continue.
  • If the plants are on someone else’s property, get permission to observe/photograph and collect seeds.  Do not collect seeds on Federal or State lands; it is generally a crime.  You and the landowner fill out and sign the Landowner Permission to Collect Wild Seeds.  Make three (3) copies of the signed form and give one to the landowner, one to be mailed to the coordinator and one for you to keep.
  • Demonstrate to the coordinator that the species are indeed what you think they are.  Take the following photos of each species, several trips over the seasons:
    • Basal Leaves as appropriate.
    • Stem with Leaves.
    • Plant in Flower – several shots to capture details of flowering.
    • Plant in Fruit – close up of fruit.
  • Submit the following by email or mail (see below) to the coordinator:
    • Signed Landowners Permission form.
    • Each photos with:
      • Date of photo.
      • Written description of how each photo demonstrates positive plant identification.

If/when the coordinator agrees with the positive plant identification, the collector can continue to:

  • Collect seeds, not plants. Follow suggestions in the seed collecting section of the plant species, collecting only ripe seeds.
  • Collect a few seeds from each of at least 10, but ideally 50 – 100 plants of same species for greater genetic diversity.  Ideally collecting at least 1000 seeds.
  • Do not take more than 5% (can be up to 25% if plant species is common) of the available seeds.
  • If possible clean seeds by rubbing gently on a screen to protect from mold and rot.
  • Place seeds in a paper envelope or bag and let air dry for several weeks at room temperature.  First label the envelope or bag clearly with:
    • Plant name as Genus and Species.
    • Date of collection.
    • Location of collection and name of landowner.
    • Number of plants seeds were collected from.
    • Collector’s name, mail address, email address.
  • Mail seeds to:
    Jane Sorensen, coordinator
    Northeast Wild Seed Collectors
    191 Goose Pond Road
    Fairfax, VT  05454

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