Want an Easy Way to help our Natural Areas?
Collect and Donate Seed from your own Native Gardens!

Ask to Join the Seed Collection Mailing List to get more updates like this to know what seeds are ready and how to collect them!
Every year The Land Conservancy of McHenry County adds as much native seed as we can to our sites, either making whole new prairies out of nothing or adding more diversity to our preserves. 

Native seed can be expensive, but it's free if you collect it from your own natural areas!

We'll take any native seed and no amount is too little! Please be sure it is the native form and not a cultivated variety. It helps if each species is collected separately and placed in its own paper bag and labelled. Most seeds can be fully dried and stored in a paper bag, but some cannot and we have made notes if any special storage is required. Seeds can be dropped off at our office in Woodstock. If you have questions send us an email. 

Thank you to everyone who has donated seed to us already this year! This will probably be the last seed collection email for the year,

We've included another five species common in native flower plantings and have directions on how to collect these!
Goldenrods: Zig-zag Goldenrod Featured
Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info
Most goldenrods ripen late in the fall. They are ready when their seed starts to show the puffy white pappus above the seed. The seed itself is a small brown cylinder.
Every goldenrod is different- some will ripen from the top down, and others from the inside of the circular seedhead out. The most efficient way to gather seeds is to cut the whole seed head when it is in the middle of forming seeds, and ensuring that air flow can occur to dry them out completely.

Asters: New England Aster Featured
Like goldenrods, most asters form seed in late fall, and they form a fluffy pappus on top of the cylindrical seed to help with wind dispersal. The seeds are ready when you see the fluff, and the whole seedhead can be gathered and stored.

Be sure to space these seeds out while air drying, or put a fan on them to be sure they don't mold.

  Photo from IllinoisWildflowers.info
Hyssop: Yellow Giant Hyssop Featured
 Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info
The seeds of this plant are ready when the seed head begins to turn brown. The seeds are pretty obvious small round black hard seeds.

Once again, if you are collecting when the heads are still quite green, be sure to place the seed heads out to air dry or put a fan on them.

Monkey Flower
Monkey flower is another one of those plants that start blooming on the bottom of the seed head, and progressively blooms up the stalk throughout a few weeks. This flowering method also results in seed pods at the bottom of the stalk that are ready, while unripe seed pods or even flowers are still present near the top of the stalk. You can carefully pick the brown seed pods off the bottom of the stem while allowing the ones at the top to ripen, or snip the whole thing when the lower pods are ripe.

A great multitude of tiny seeds are encased in each capsule, and look like a small amount of spilled paprika.

Let the stalks air out and dry completely, and be sure to dry it on a surface with no holes because the seeds are so tiny.

Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info
Porcupine Sedge (Carex hystricina)
 Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info

Instead of a shrub to discuss, I've included a sedge for the first time! For this sedge feature I've chosen a member of the genus Carex. When people think of sedges (Sedges have edges), they are only speaking of the genus Carex. Many other sedges are perfectly round. Besides the distinct feature of having typically triangular stems, Carex species also encase their seeds in a sac called the perigynia. The seeds themselves are called achenes, a special type of nutlet. The photo below shows the seedhead, the perigynia below, and then the achenes (the actual seeds), which I separated from the perigynia on the way bottom.

When seed collecting, there is no need to separate the seed from the perigynia, I just wanted to share that info for some fun trivia.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County | mgrycan@conservemc.org|
815-337-9502 | www.ConserveMC.org