Here at the St. Charles Park District, we’re big into small things… seeds, for example!
Did you know that in 2015, naturalist staff and volunteers collected seeds from more than 150 different species of native plants? Everything from the Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) to the Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium). Any idea why we’d devote huge amount of time to collecting such tiny resources?
The answer is simple – seed collecting preserves our natural areas and saves money.
Collected specimens are often used when the district does restoration, otherwise invasive species move in. If an area has been cleared due to removal of trees or some other disturbance, restoring the land using seeds from native plants ensures that the parks maintain a healthy level of plant diversity and that the plants used stand a good chance of surviving.
Seed collecting also saves the park district money. Not only are many seed types unavailable through commercial markets, if they were, they would be cost-prohibitive to buy in the quantities the park district would need for large restoration efforts. In fact, although the district does buy some additional seeds each year, seed collecting and propagating saves thousands of dollars.
In addition, our ecological restoration technicians propagate plants from seed to plant into restoration areas. This saves money over the cost of purchasing plants from nurseries and has the added benefit of preserving the genetics of local native plants.