Harvesting Guide for Native Seedlings and Plants

Buckeye

Collecting and supporting native seedlings is a great way to support biodiversity. Stearns Native Nursery is always in need of native trees and seedlings. To get your native plants to the nursery, follow this harvesting guide:

  1. Make sure it’s dormant season for your plants: late fall or early spring. This way the plants have the highest chance of survival.
  2. Identify if you have native species at home. You can also use the app iNaturalist for free to help identify species! 
    See the Trees of Ohio Field Guide and the Native Shrubs of Ohio Guide for more information
  3. Get a pot. If you can’t find one in your garage or at a neighbor’s house, they are available at local hardware stores, Amazon, Target, etc.
  4. Dig a hole around the root of your tree and be careful not to damage the roots. The hole should be at least a foot outside the trunk and at least a foot down to get under the roots.
  5. Put the tree in the pot and fill it with soil.
  6. (For trees) – Expose the root flare. The root flare is the bump where the trunk meets the roots. Make sure the soil goes up to the root flare but doesn’t cover it.
  7. Water!
  8. Contact Kara Benninghofen to coordinate drop-off. She can be reached at (216) 749-3720 x11 or kara@westcreek.org.

Collecting Native Seeds

West Creek Conservancy responsibly collects native nuts, seeds, seedlings, and cuttings to propagate at Stearns Native Nursery. You can help us with our Native Plant and Seed Collection if you have native tree or shrub seedlings to donate or if you would like to collect the following nuts.

The first step to contributing to the Native Seed Collection Program is to determine if seeds are ready to harvest. Check out our quick guide below:

Ohio Buckeyes: harvest around September and early October after the buckeyes have fallen to the ground. Ohio Buckeye Harvesting Guide

Pignut Hickory: harvest around September and early October soon after the nuts fall to the ground and are brown. Pignut Hickory Harvesting Guide

Pignut Hickory

Image Attribute: William (Ned) Friedman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shagbark Hickory: harvest around September and early October when the nuts are greenish-brown. Shagbark Hickory Harvesting Guide

Image Attribute: Ar rouz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Black Walnut: walnuts are light green, bordering on tan, when ripe. Harvest around September and early October soon after the walnuts fall to the ground. Ripe ones can also be taken from the tree. Black Walnut Harvesting Guide 

Image Attribute: Chris Light, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bur Oak: to determine if an acorn is ripe, simply wiggle the cap. If the two separate easily, the acorn is ready!

Bur Oak

Image Attribute: Cleveland Metroparks

Once you have determined that the seeds are ready to be harvested take a photo of the leaf and a small branch to confirm species identification, place the seeds in brown paper bags to prevent molding, and write the address and date of the harvest on the bag. Contact Kara Benninghofen to coordinate drop-off at our offices in Parma. She can be reached at (216) 749-3720 x11 or kara@westcreek.org.

Note: It is illegal to collect seeds in the Metroparks or National Parks. Please look for these species in your neighborhood parks, cemeteries, and backyards! Always get permission from the homeowner if the tree is not on your property.

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