Collecting seed for hardwood tree establishment

Before collecting seeds, contact your area forestry office for a list of tree species and quantities accepted and the dates and times when seeds will be purchased. Refer to seed zone map for more information.

By collecting, storing, and delivering large quantities of high-quality seed, you contribute to the success of regenerating our hardwood resource.

Species

 

Seed crop freq.

 

Time to collect seed

 

Shape

and app.

 

Collection method*

Cleaning

Storage until seeded

in fall

Comments

Black ash

1–3 years

October to December

Flat exclamation point

H, T/S, P

Remove stems and leaves

Keep dry—can be stored in feed sacks in a 40 °F cooler for several weeks

Can hang on trees in bunches into December

White ash

3–5 years

Late September to late November

Flat exclamation point

 

H, T/S, P

Remove stems and leaves

Same as above

Hard to tell from green ash; purple leaves only sure way

Green ash

1 year

October to January

Flat exclamation point

H, T/S, P

Remove stems and leaves

Same as above

Grows on a wide range of sites

Basswood

1+ years

September to December

Brown peas with propeller on a stalk

Rake, T/S, H

Crush stems and wings, separate hard, round seed

Dry—store in moisture-proof container at 40 ?F or lower

Second year germination; needs cold/warm/cold cycle.

Black cherry

1–5 years

August to September

Purple-black berries

Rake, T/S, H

Mascerate soft fruit, separate hard seed, dry

Dry—store in moisture-proof container at 40 ?F

Collect from high-quality trees

Hackberry

 

October to December

Purple-black berries

Rake, T/S, H

None

Store dried fruits or cleaned seeds in moisture-proof container at 40 ?F

 

Shagbark hickory

1–3 years

September to December

Four football-shaped segments together

H, Rake

Remove leaves and twigs

Can be stored in feed bags at 40 ?F

Stay within natural range

Silver maple

1 year

 

June

Green to brown propellers

 

Rake

Remove stems and leaves

Plant as soon as possible in early summer

Seed shallow

Sugar maple

3–5 years

Late September to early November

Green to brown propellers

Rake, T/S, H

Remove stems and leaves

Dry—store in small seed sacks at 40 ?F

One bushel per person per day is maximum yield for hand picking

Bur oak

2–3 years

August to September

Acorn almost fully covered by cap, which has a furry fringe

Rake, B-A-N, Pick

Cut open a handful to test for viability; hand sort

Only for a few weeks at 40 ?F— soak overnight before storage

Race with squirrels and deer for acorns

Red oak pdf

3–5 years

September to early October

Reddish-brown acorn

Rake, B-A-N, Pick

Float, then remove "floaters" or hand sort

Only for a few weeks at 40 ?F— soak overnight, sow in fall

Race with squirrels and deer for acorns

White oak

4–10 years

Late August to September

Tan to light-brown acorn, thinner and smaller than most red oak acorns

Rake, B-A-N, Pick

Float, then remove "floaters" or hand sort

Only for a few weeks at 40 ?F— soak overnight, sow in fall

Race with squirrels and deer for acorns

Black walnut pdf

1–2 years

October

Golfball-size nut with green to black husk

 

Rake, B-A-N, Pick

Remove leaves and twigs

Only for a few weeks—small piles to prevent the heating of seed

Stay within natural range; nuts have been stored too long if warm and black like tar.

Gray dogwood

1 year

July to August

Pea-sized white berries in clusters

H

Remove leaves and twigs

Seed extraction from fruit is not necessary

Sow in fall as soon as possible after collection

Red-osier dogwood

1 year

July to September

Pea-sized white berries in clusters

H

Remove leaves and twigs

Seed extraction from fruit is not necessary— prevent heating of seed

Sow in fall as soon as possible after collection; Attractive red twigs.

Choke cherry

1–2 years

August to September

Pea-sized dark red to purple berries

H

Remove leaves and twigs

Seed extraction from fruit is not necessary—surface dry fruit is OK for sowing.

Sow in fall as soon as possible after collection; Prevent heating in storage.

Highbush cranberry

1–2 years

August to September

Pea-sized bright red berries in clusters

H

Remove leaves and twigs

Seed extraction from fruit helpful is some Viburnum species

Often second-year germination; Prevent heating in storage.

*Collection methods:
H – Hand pick from cut or standing trees
T/S – Tarp ground and shake branches when seed is ready to fall
P – Pruning hook on a long pole
B-A-N – Bag-a-Nut machine
Rake – Rake fallen seed from street or lawns
Pick – Gather fallen seed by hand from ground

Bagging seed for shipping

Label all bags with species, date and place collected. Do not overfill bags.