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Plants & Animals

Seed Collections

The objective of collecting these seeds is to obtain additional collections to secure representation throughout each species' range of occurrence. The additional collections will allow for a thorough evaluation and selection of potential ecotypes in the future. Once adequate collections from representative locations in Montana and Wyoming are made, these species will be seeded in Initial Evaluation Plantings to determine their suitability for conservation plantings and commercial seed production.

Species needing 2015 seed collection

In support of declining monarch butterfly habitat the Montana plant materials program is requesting assistance with the collection of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.):

Species Name Plant Symbol Common Name
Milkweed Species for Collection
A. incarnata ASIN swamp milkweed
A. pumila ASPU plains milkweed
A. speciosa ASSP showy milkweed
A. stenophylla ASST slimleaf milkweed
A. verticillata ASVE whorled milkweed
A. viridiflora ASVI green comet milkweed

Please refer Montana Plant Materials Technical Note, MT-50 “the NRCS Field Office Guide to Collecting Wildland Seed” for information on how to collect. Be sure to complete in full the Seed and Plant Collection Information form (NRCS-ECS-580). Plains, slimleaf, and whorled milkweeds all have linear leaves 4 mm wide or less and white or greenish flowers. The leaves of plains milkweed are shorter than 1.6 inches, spirally arranged and plants are mostly less than 8 inches tall; slimleaf milkweed has opposite or alternate leaves; and whorled milkweed has whorled leaves. Showy, swamp, and green comet milkweeds have leaves wider than 4 mm. Showy and swamp milkweeds have pink, purple or rose-colored flowers and can be distinguished by the length of the hood-like appendage at the base of the stamens (10 mm in showy and 2-4 mm in swamp). Green comet milkweed has green flowers. Most of what we’re seeing is showy milkweed and the pods are a few weeks away from being ripe.

The ideal time to collect pods is when the seeds inside have matured and turned brown but the pod seams have not fully opened and the floss fibers have not yet expanded. At this stage, seed can be easily hand-stripped from the pod while leaving the unexpanded floss behind. You can test an un-opened pod for maturity by applying pressure to the seam. If the seam doesn’t readily open; the seed inside is immature. Immature seed are white, yellow or green.

Field offices should record all site information on Plant Collection Information forms (NRCS-ECS-580) and use grocery sacks, etc. for actual collection. Collect Large Samples! (30 to 40 grams, 1+ oz.) To facilitate testing, the PMC needs at least 30 grams of seed.

Send seed collections to:

Joe Scianna
USDA NRCS Plant Materials Center
98 South River Road
Bridger, Montana 59014-9514