© U.S. Bureau of Land Management (Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program)

CPNPP Collection Guidance

Seed Selection Based on Seed Zones

Successful restoration of native plant communities depends on proper seed selection. That’s because plant populations become adapted to their local environment; individuals with genes favorable to the local environment are able to produce lots of seeds and thus pass their genes on. Those with unfavorable genes produce fewer seeds or none at all. Over time, this results in a plant population with a genetic makeup adapted to those particular environmental conditions. If seed from a particular species is collected from a cool and moist environment and then used for a restoration project in a hot and dry environment, those plants are likely to do poorly if they manage to survive at all.

To address this issue, seed transfer zones have been developed to distinguish areas of climatic similarity. The basic definition of a seed transfer zone is an area within which plant materials can be transferred with little risk of being poorly adapted to their new location. The idea of a good seed zone is captured in the mantra of the National Seed Strategy; “The right seed in the right place at the right time.”

Since native plant restoration efforts require seed from the same seed transfer zone in order to maximize their chances of success, the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program takes seed zones into account when coordinating seed collection efforts to ensure there is available seed from as many zones as possible

Empirical Seed Zones

SOS Guidance Astragalus Ionchocarpus

SOS Guidance Top 8 PSZs & Vernal Area

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