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Index Seminum, What is it?

February 15, 2022


You may not be aware that Holden Forests and Gardens participates in Index Seminum.  You may be asking “what is Index Seminum”?  It is Latin for “Seed Index”.  Botanical gardens, arboretums, and research institutions around the world provide a catalog of seeds which may be of wild or cultivated origin and circulate this list to participating institutions. Seeds requested are sent free of charge.  Each institution publishes their own index and shares it with the others. This exchange of seed increases the collections of botanical gardens around the world. In addition, the seed can be used for research or even ex situ conservation.

Some of the catalogs are quite extensive and are published in little booklet formats and mailed out.  Today, most participants either provide an online link to their Index Seminum, or they email it out.  This is the third year that we have published our catalog in email format.

We select our index from native species in our natural areas.  Each year we collect fresh seed during the growing season. The seed is then cleaned and stored until we make our catalog available at the beginning of the year.  At the beginning of the year, our volunteers package up the seed into coin envelopes or little plastic bags of similar size.  These are then appropriately labeled with their Latin name and the year the seed was collected. As the orders come in, nursery volunteers fill the orders and we mail them out.

We have sent seed to 60+ organizations in 20+ countries and 4 U.S. states. These orders total between 200-300 seed packets depending on the year.  The numbers vary by year and tend to correlate to the number of taxa we have been able to collect and offer in our catalog.  

We have plants in our collections that were grown from seed acquired through the index. Ethan Johnson, our Plant Records Curator, shared some information about these plants.  Currently we have 184 plants, representing 80 taxa from 17 different countries currently alive in the collection that were received via Index Seminum. The oldest, California incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), from 1990 and the most recent, Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum), from 2020. One of my favorites, seven-son flower (Heptacodium miconioides) can be found at Holden Grove at the Arboretum campus.

Figure 1 Index Seminum List 2022
Figure 2 Packaged seed for 2022 Index Seminum
Figure 3 buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) seed
Greg Wright

Greg Wright

Nursery Manager

Greg Wright is the Nursery Manager at the Arboretum campus. Greg has degrees in horticulture and landscape architecture. He started his career at the Arboretum in 1999 as a manager in the Education department after completing an education master plan for the USU Botanical Center as part of his Landscape Architecture degree. Within the education department, he managed our Intern Program and the Landscape Horticulture Certificate program that we had at the time. Greg transferred over to the nursery in fall of 2004 as a Nursery Technician and began managing the Nursery in 2007.

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