grow some trees
1 credit name of tree
2 credit for 10 seeds of same type
The best time to collect seeds
English oak (Quercus robur) Sept - Nov
Sessile oak (Q. petraea) Sept - Nov
Turkey oak (Q.cerris) Sept - Nov
Beech (Fagussylvatica) Sept - Nov
Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) Sept - Oct
Sweet chestnut (Castaneasativa) Oct - Nov
Walnut (Juglansregia) Oct
Hazel (Corylus avellana) Sept - Oct
Holly (Ilex aquilifolia) Nov - Feb
Yew (Taxus bacatta) Aug - Oct
Hawthorn (Crategus monogyna/Crategus lavegata) Sept - Nov
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) Sept
Buckthorn (Rhamnus catharticus) Oct
Alder buckthorn (Frangula alnus) Sept - Oct
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) Jul - Sept
Whitebeam(Sorbus aria) Sept
Wild service (Sorbus tormanalis) Sept
Cherries (Prunus avium) Jun - Jul
Bird cherry (Prunus padus) Jul - Aug
Apple (Malus sylvestris) Sept - Oct
Pear (Pyruscommunis) Sept - Oct
Mulberry (Morus nigra) Jun- Aug
Elder (Sambucus nigra) Aug - Sept
Ash (Fraxinus excelsior) Aug – Jan
Field maple (Acer campestre) Oct - Jan
Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus) Sept - Oct
Limes (Tiliaeuropaea, Tilia platyphyllos and Tilia cordata)Oct
Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) Nov - Feb
Wych elm (Ulmus glabra) Jun - Jul
Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) Mar - Apr
Common alder (Alnus glutinosa) Sept - Feb
Silver birch (Betula pendula) Aug - Dec
Downy Birch (B. pubescens) Aug - Dec
Collecting and preparing seeds to grow into new trees for your community
• Choose healthy trees with lots of ripe fruit.
• Choose trees already growing near the planting site, as these have proved they will do well here.
•Get permission from the landowner.
• Collect from the ground if possible. Otherwise carefully, shakethe branches.
•Label your seeds with date, place and species.
• Check nuts for infertility by placing them in a bucket of water. Discard the floaters, as they will already be hollowed out by insects or rot. The sinkers are more likely to be fertile.
•Do not expect 100% success rate.
•Some species deteriorate when stored and are best sown straight away (for example, beech, horse chestnut, oak, sweet chestnut, sycamore). Ash is best sown immediately if picked in August, or can be stored when picked in October.
•Seed that is not for immediate sowing should be spread out to become surface dry and then stored in open-texture bags in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place.
Encouraging seeds to germinate
The seeds of very few native tree species will germinate (shoot or sprout) without exposure to the
cold of at least one winter.
Tree growers have developed a technique called stratification which aims to mimic this natural
process. To stratify your seeds, mix them with an equal volume of stratification medium and put
them in a pot or bucket which has holes in the bottom for drainage.
• Add one volume of peat-free potting compost (fresh or recycled) to an equal volume of a coarseparticle
material, such as barkchips, perlite, sand or grit.
• Mix an equal volume of seeds and stratification mixture together and put in a pot, bucket or
The container should then be covered with a fine wire-mesh lid to keep out birds and rodents, and
either buried in the ground, placed against a north-facing wall or kept in a cool outhouse.
It is essential to keep the mixture moist but not saturated. It’s moist
Enough if you can squeeze out a drop of water when you pinch the mixture between your thumb and
In the spring, tip out the mixture and remove any seeds that are showing small shoots or roots.
These seeds are germinating and are ready for sowing. Any seeds that haven’t germinated should be
put back into the stratification mixture. Keep checking the seeds weekly during the spring, sowing
any that germinate.
Once the seeds are growing, it is important to sow them quickly, as the new shoots are fragile.
Growing and nurturing seeds
Depending on the number of seeds involved and the size of area available to you, options for sowing tree
•flower pots, yoghurt pots or other containers
• root trainers – purpose-built cells which allow easy movement and observation of seedlings
•seed beds – allotments, gardens and tree nurseries.
Wherever you plant your seeds, they will need:
• free-draining soil. In containers this can be achieved by ensuring that there are holes in the bottom; on
larger sites, digging in some sand and grit will help prevent waterlogging.
• shelter from hot sun, cold winds, frost, birds, mice and other animals. A shady spot against a wall is ideal. A
frame of fine wire mesh will help to keep out seed predators; rabbit fencing may be needed on larger plots.
• watering regularly, especially in summer.
• weeding, but avoid pulling up the young trees by mistake.
Seed sown in seed beds can be left for a year or more. Seedlingsin pots may need re-potting in midsummer to
avoid confining the growing roots; move seedlings to larger pots or plant in rows in the ground when
When transplanting the seedlings to their final growing positions, follow the same rules as for tree planting,
such as moving them when dormant in winter (keeping the roots covered while moving the seedlings). The
only real difference is that the hole doesn’t need to be so big. Care in the first few years is essential since
small seedlings are even more vulnerable than whips to weed competition and accidental damage.
Seed trays or yoghurt pots are ideal for a classroom or window ledge, and seed gathering makes an excellent
school project with a practical result - more trees for the kids to plant!