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. We also bring seed to our Seed Sharing Day in October, where we teach anyone interested in restoration how to collect seed for their own properties and spend the day collecting seed or giving away an assortment of seed people have donated.

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 bag and labelled. Seeds can be dropped off at our office in Woodstock. If you have questions send us an email. 

We've included another five species common in native flower plantings and have directions on how to collect these!
Culvers Root
Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info

Cut the whole seed head off when it is dry and brown, and the stem is beginning to turn brown under the flower head. The seedhead is actually a multitude of individual seed pods, and the actual seeds are quite small and almost look like dust.

When collecting for us, there is no need to try and separate the seed from the pods, just store in a paper bag without holes.

Purple Prairie Clover
These seeds can easily be removed from the stalk just by pulling upwards on the seed head. The gray cylindrical seed head should easily fall apart into individual fluffy seed pods. If it's difficult to remove it means the seeds aren't ready yet! The seed is actually inside of this fuzzy pod and resembles a small bean, but there is no need to remove the seed from the pod.

  Photo from IllinoisWildflowers.info
 Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info
Just like prairie clovers, these seeds are ready when the seed pods are easily removed from the stalk by pulling upwards on the seed head. The whole seed stalk should be gray and dry. The seed is small and bean shaped inside of a pod, but there is no need to remove the seed from the pod. 

Solomon's Seal
When ripe, the seeds will look like dark blue berries and fall easily off the stem. The leaves of the plant will start turning brown and drying out, making the blue berries easier to spot. The berries are filled with a green slimy material and several large yellow balls that are the seeds.

It is very important to not let these seeds dry out completely. Put them in a plastic bag with slightly moist sand and keep in the fridge, but try to sow outdoors as soon as possible, within three weeks or so to prevent seeds from becoming moldy.

Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info
False Solon's Seal
 Photo from Illinoiswildflowers.info

This plant differs from Solomon's Seal by having red "berries" form on the terminal end of the shaft rather than along the leaf nodes. Wear gloves because these "berries" are very slimy and will stain your hand red. These fruits are technically a drupe rather than a berry since each one has one white seed in them rather than multiple seeds. The seeds are ready to collect when fully red (rather than pink with red spots) and when they fall off easily into your hand.

As with most fleshy woodland seeds, do not let these seeds fully dry out. Store them in your fridge in a bag of slightly moist sand. Sow them as soon as possible (within a few weeks of collecting). 

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