Almanac Article

Attention, Hunters & Gatherers

Debby Cole, Seed Distribution Chairman
[Reprinted from Spring 2002 issue of the Almanac]

Iris douglasiana seed
Iris douglasiana seed

SPCNI's Seed Bank has no seed of I. fernaldii, I. chrysophylla, I. macrosiphon, I. munzii, I. purdyi, or I. tenuissima. We could also wish for some I. hartwegii ssp. columbiana and ssp. pinetorum, some I. tenax ssp. klamathensis, and some I. tenuissima ssp. purdyformis. The known locations of these species and subspecies are listed by counties near the back of SPCNI's "Check List of Pacific Coast Iris," available from SPCNI.

Please consult your references and go forth, see them blooming, take good pictures for the Almanac, mark their location, and come back in two months and collect seed for us all. Do check the plant characteristics and be sure what you're collecting! As to quantity, PCI growing in the wild are far less accessible than those in your back yard; please gather at least a dozen pods.


For those who will be collecting and/or submitting seed from wild iris populations, here's a suggestion from Tim Ross, a recently returned former member: “For each seed lot, it would be helpful to have the state, county, physiographic unit (such as “Gervis Hills” or “Polecat Creek Canyon”) and a directional location from the nearest town in the general area (such as “3.2 miles WSW of Hannibal along Willitts Road”). As a (former) field and herbarium botanist, I would consider such information to be the bare minimum acceptable for a field collection. Additional info like flower color is a plus.” Many of our members are species enthusiasts and will appreciate your care.


From your gardens, we'd especially like to offer seed of named varieties not previously included in our listings. So if you're growing something not on last year's list, save several pods for the Seed Bank.


Also, in support of the quest to breed hardier PCI, we'd like to receive PCI seed (of named varieties, planned crosses, hardy seedlings, or garden-grown species) from growers outside the areas to which PCI are native—i.e., non-west-coast USA, and especially foreign.


If you're making a deliberate cross to contribute seed, cover your intended pod parent with a panty-hose “bag” while still in bud to prevent unwanted premature pollination. After it opens and you remove the bag and make the cross, remove the falls of the now-pregnant flower to prevent late contamination, and shake out the “bag” before moving it to the next candidate bud.


Send your contribution to the next Seed Distribution (posted not later than September 15, 2002) to Debby Cole, SPCNI Seed Chairman

If your pods aren't ripe by then, please send word of your intentions me so we can at least include them in the listing. Good hunting!!!

POSTSCRIPT (August 2002): Legal and Ethical Collecting. A letter from Carol Bornstein, of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, reminds members to be sure to check the protected status of any plants or seeds collected in the wild. Collecting from public lands requires a state or federal permit:

SBBG logo

July 10, 2002

Dear Ms. Cole,

I am writing in response to your call for wild-collected seed in the Spring, 2002 Almanac. Your list of desired species includes three species currently listed as rare by the California Native Plant Society: Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis is listed as CNPS 4 (Plants of limited distribution - a watch list), and I. munzii and I. hartwegii ssp. columbiana are each listed as CNPS 1B (Plants rare, threatened, or endangered in California and elsewhere). These CNPS 1B species are of particular concern.

On public lands, these plants are protected under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and proper permits are required for collection of these plants and their propagules. Collecting on all federal lands requires a permit, regardless of status. On private lands, permits are not required, but certain ethical collecting practices should be followed. For example, seed should only be collected in small quantities (no more than 10% of entire crop), and only if sufficient seed will be left to repopulate natural populations.

Please consider making a note in your next Almanac encouraging your members to refrain from overharvesting propagules from rare plant populations. Perhaps for certain rare species, seeds can be preferentially collected from plants in your members' gardens instead of wild populations.

When collecting propagules from wild populations, please remind your members to research the current conservation status of the species and obtain the proper collecting permits. Information about laws pertaining to plants is available from your state's natural resources department, and data concerning the conservation status of plants are available from the state Natural Heritage Program, or their equivalents. In California, The CNPS Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants is an excellent, regularly updated resource.

Kind regards,

Carol J. Bornstein
Director of Horticulture
1212 Mission Canyon Road,
Santa Barbara, California 93105-2126
(805) 682-4726 Fax (805) 563-0352