by William "Tamlin" Dawnstar

There are various techniques. Individual pods may be CAREFULLY cut from the scape when they have turned brown. I can't tell you how many scapes I have cut using this method but for precious seed that you don't want to lose even a bit of, it is an option. CONCENTRATE! Put your glasses on!

Generally though I wait until all the pods have turned brown, or 80% or so for weedy and common species. In the case of D. spatulata, D. capensis, D. binata, and D. dielsiana, I try to harvest when half the pods are brown. This (occasionally!) prevents self sowing into other pots which is a never ending source of ID confusion if these weeds are sent out under the wrong name, as often happens. As your collection grows, sundew weeds can become a real problem. I repot annually to solve this problem. The above species are the real culprits in my collection. Harvesting when only half the pods are ripe prevents the self sowing of these species, or at least helps do so.

Once the scapes are cut, they are placed in paper envelopes (I use junk mail envelopes, but dont use the ones you don't have to lick, and be sure there are no openings at the corners!) and IMMEDIATELY labeled as to species and date of harvest. I leave them to dry in a secure place for a few weeks, after which the pods will have split releasing the seed. Additional seed may occasionally be released by gently rolling the pods, but if you pulverize them it becomes more difficult to winnow out the seed. Round seed will easily roll out of the chaff, but fusiform (long and narrow) seed is more difficult to separate. I place a crease in the envelope, gently tapping the paper. The loose seed is then rolled out along this furrow into smaller paper envelopes, which are labeled as above, and inserted into small ziplock bags, and placed into a plastic box with index dividers. I keep some desiccant in the box itself, and the lid is snapped on. The box is placed in the fridge near the back where it is coldest. Do not use just plastic to store the seeds, this can result in mold if there is any trace moisture in the seed, and the paper will also help dry the seed.

As soon as I have another harvest, and am assured that I have good insurance, I send out the previously harvested seed.

Seed stored well (cold and dry) will remain viable for a long time. I have had decade old seed germinate well. The exceptions seem to be very small seed with correspondingly small amount of endosperm. Seed of this type (D. communis, D. grantsuai, D. sessilifolia, D. indica and D. burmannii in my experience) are best sown immediately after harvest, or shared asap. This applies as well to Utricularia seed.

It is a good idea to maintain the source of any seed you receive in your records in case ID problems arise (and they do). This will let you notify your source, and will enable future discussion. I use a code for each species in my collection which refers to its origin.

With some seed, notably the South African species, uncontrolled fertilization is always a potential possibility. Those who share such seed may do so in good faith that it is the named species, but hybridization may happen in only one pod out of many, so there is no assurance that seed sent will come true to the name.

It is my firm belief that seed is best stored by sending it to as many willing growers as possible, rather than in the fridge. Getting rare seed distributed to good growers who will take the time and care to maintain and spread it, vs. storing it for its potential monetary or trade value is the hallmark of a good grower.

May your harvest be plentiful!