The Seed Bank

Established in 2011, The Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank continues the work of "The Berry Botanic Garden Seed Bank for Rare and Endangered Plants of the Pacific Northwest", which had been in operation for 28 years before moving to Portland State University.

The brainchild of Molly McGuire Grothaus, ours is, as far as we know, the first seed bank in the USA and maybe even the first in the world dedicated exclusively to conserving rare native plants.

We currently hold more than 23,000 accessions representing over 350 of our region's rarest and most vulnerable plants. In addition, the seed bank is expanding its scope of coverage. In partnership with the national Seeds of Success program, we are beginning to build a collection of more common species, which currently contains over 130 taxa. 

The seeds of rare taxa constitute an 'insurance policy' against the extirpation in the wild of sampled populations or species. They are held primarily for use in reintroductions to the wild and rare plant research. The seeds of common taxa also have multiple purposes. In the near term, they can be used in larger scale ecological restoration efforts. In the longer term, they also constitute an ‘insurance policy’ against the effects of a warming world that is causing climates to change in ways we cannot predict with any certainty. Who knows what currently common species will become endangered in a hundred years?

Seed banking is one form of plant conservation. Because such efforts take place away from the plants' natural habitats, they are called off-site, or ex situ conservation.