Seed collecting

SOWN encourages members to collect native seeds from the Enoggera catchment for propagation at the SOWN Nursery.

Seeds should be collected from members’ own land or with the landholder’s permission.

SOWN has permission to collect some native seeds from land managed by Brisbane City Council under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and the Code of Practice for the Taking and Use of Protected Plants.

All seeds must be clearly labelled with:

  • Scientific name of the plant
  • Common name of the plant
  • Location where the plant was collected
  • Date of collection
  • Name of the collector

If you are unsure of the identity of the plant bring in the seed along with a small branch with at least four sets of leaves. You still need to label the seed with the location, date and name of the collector.

You can leave the seed at the SOWN Nursery during opening hours Saturday 9.00 am – 11.00 am and Wednesday 9.00 am – 12.30 pm. Leave it on the propagation desk which is in the shed near the refrigerator. SOWN can provide equipment for gathering seed from tall branches if needed.

When to collect seed

SOWN propagator Terrie Templeton is in the process of preparing  notes on what seed should be ripe and ready to collect at different times of the year. This page will be updated as Terrie’s notes become available.

Fruiting times can vary according to weather and local conditions please check adjacent months for an indication of what’s in season.

February

Kangaroo Vine Cissus antarctica is a woody climbing vine which produces edible, purplish-black spherical fruit hence its other common name Native Grape. The fruit softens when ripe and should be ready to pick in February.

Hairy Alectryon Alectryon tomentosus are laden with seed capsules now which will start to ripen in February. The seed capsules are brown and hairy hence the common name. When the seeds are ripe, the hairy capsule splits open to reveal the red aril and the black seed inside. The seeds do not all ripen together. Collecting these seeds requires the diligent collector to return to the tree regularly to collect the seeds as they ripen. It is best to collect them as they ripen on the tree to thwart the Soapberry Bugs who find them absolutely delicious.

Green Tamarind Elattostachys nervosa is a 20-metre tree which bears orange, 3-valved seed capsules to 15 mm in size. The capsules split open to reveal black seeds inside. Ideally, the seeds need to be collected from mature fruit ripening on the tree. If you do collect seed, please bring it to the nursery as soon as possible as it must be sown fresh.  And please let us know where the tree you collected from is growing as it is one of the less common trees in the catchment.

Native Bleeding Heart Homolanthus nutans is a small tree to 6 metres. It produces two-lobed fruit which change from green to purple when ripe.  Although it produces fruit throughout the year, January-February is peak fruiting time.

The Wheel of Fire Stenocarpus sinuatus is a very beautiful tree when in full flower. It produces woody seed capsules to 8 cm long, which open to reveal winged seeds. If you have one in your backyard, just spread a sheet on the ground under the tree now and wait for the capsules to fall.

January

Many Lilly Pilly set seed in summer and foremost among them is the Waterhousea floribunda or Weeping Lilly Pilly the iconic tree of Enoggera catchment. The fruit is green and about 13 mm in diameter. Collect the seed by picking it up from the ground. The trees are found right through our catchment particularly on the creek banks. It’s good to collect seed from lots of different trees which promotes generic diversity in SOWN’s propagation efforts.

Small-leaved Lilly Pilly Syzygium leuhmanii has edible bright pinkish red, pear-shaped fruit that is up to 12 mm in diameter. Collect the fruit from the ground unless you have a low-growing tree. The seed stores well, so SOWN Nursery can use as much as possible.

Purple Cherry Syzygium crebrinerve has pinkish purple fruit up to 25 mm and slightly compressed. This is a big tree and collecting from the ground is probably the best option.

Giant Water Gum Syzygium francisii has purple to blue fruit which is to 15 mm and slightly compressed. Also suitable for collecting for the ground. Syzygium crebrinerve and Syzygium francisii are less common in the catchment, so it would be good to identify as many sources as possible for future collections. If you bring in seed, please be specific about the location of the tree where the fruit was collected.

Another iconic local plant is Green Kamala Mallotus claoxyloides. It’s also called Smell Of The Bush because it emits a strong odour which gives the Australian bush its distinctive smell. There are separate male and female plants. The fruit is green to brown to 8 mm in diameter with blunt prickles.

November

The winter-flowering wattles or Acacia set seed in November. The shape and look of the seeds vary according to the species. The rule of thumb is that if there are some seedpods opening on a tree, then those seeds are ready to pick. The Plants to Plant section of this web site has more than a dozen local Acacia spp. starting with Baker’s Wattle Acacia bakeri.

Dianellas also set seed in November. These seeds are ready to pick when they turn bright blue and can be easily detached from the stem. The most common variety Paroo Lily Dianella caerulea carries its seed on a long stem, whereas Blue Flax Lily Dianella brevipedunculata carries its seeds in a weblike network within its foliage.

Swamp Lily Crinum pedunculatum sets seed in late November to December.  The seed is ripe when it turns from green to whitish grey.

More challenging are the seeds from tall trees which are more difficult to collect for obvious reasons.

Hairy Rosewood Dysoxylum rufum grows to 20 metres and has 20 mm yellow brown hairy fruit. It may be possible to pick up fruit from the ground. Or if you can see fruit, you can borrow equipment to pluck high growing fruit from the SOWN Nursery.

There are five different Flindersia species. They are tall growing trees from 30 metres up. The best known is Crow’s ash Flindersia australis. They have oblong, woody seed pods between 5 and 10 cm, covered in blunt spines and opening into boat-shaped segments. It’s best to collect the pods before they open because the seeds tend to fly away with the wind.

Wonga Vine Pandorea pandorama is a vigorous vine with seed capsules measuring 6 cm x 20 mm containing papery seeds.

Peanut tree Sterculea quadrifida has seed pods to 7 cm. These seed pods change from green to bright reddish orange on the tree and open to reveal black edible seeds. Seeds can be picked up off the ground if you manage to beat the insects to them. Otherwise pick them from the tree when the capsules open.

December

Kangaroo Grass Themeda triandra has flower spikes with multiple brown seed capsules. They are easy to see and easy to collect. Just cut off the whole seed spike and store in a paper bag. Remember to leave at least 30 per cent of seed spikes on the plant to enable local regeneration to occur.

Chain Fruit Alyxia ruscifolia is easy to spot. It is bright red to orange and sometimes joined in chains of a few fruits.

Yellow Kamala Mallotus discolor is less common in this area than Red and Green Kamala. If you know where to find one check it for seeds in December. This is the prime time for collecting. The seeds are yellow, two-lobed and about 10 mm in size.

Long-leaved mock olive Notelaea longifolia has oblong, purplish-black fruit 15 mm in size.

Silver Croton Croton insularis has brownish fruit are three lobed to 8 mm and  split when they are ripe.

Whalebone tree Streblus brunonianus are difficult to collect, because they are very sweet and the birds love them. The seeds when ripe are soft, yellow and 6 mm in size.

Seeds from the Peanut Tree Sterculia quadrifida are usually ripe in the month of November PHOTO: Robert Whyte

For more information see the Florabank Guidelines for Native Seed Collection Methods PDF 347 KB

See news story January 2024 WANTED: Seed collectors including tips for collecting.

 

Hairy Alectryon Alectryon tomentosus PHOTO: Tatiana Gerus

Native Grape Cissus antarctica PHOTO: Robert Whyte

Green Kamala Mallotus claoxyloides PHOTO: Robert Whyte

Blueberry Lily Dianella caerulea PHOTO: Robert Whyte

Chain Fruit Alyxia ruscifolia PHOTO: Robert Whyte