A man in a lab looking through a microscope
Adam Williams assessing a germination test on native Hawaiian seeds.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Lyon Arboretum co-hosted the second Hawaiʻi Native Seed Conference for conservationists, horticulturalists, researchers and others working with seeds of native Hawaiian plants.

More than 80 people, including UH students, attended and were trained in best practices for seed collection, banking and conservation by staff from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Millennium Seed Bank, in West Sussex, United Kingdom.

“I was most impressed by the keynote presentations from Ruth Bone and Rachael Davies from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank,” said Amy Hruska, a UH Mānoa doctoral candidate in botany. “I certainly learned a lot about best practices for seed collection and storage, developing conservation partnerships and Hawaiʻi‘s own seed bank partnership. This information, particularly the Hawaiʻi specific information, will help with germination experiments I am conducting with native Hawaiian plant species.”

International knowledge

Conference workshop topics include germination and breaking dormancy, optimal harvest time and seed collection methods, post-harvesting and processing. New research and knowledge was shared from multiple Hawaiian Islands, the U.S. mainland, New Zealand, China and the U.K.

“We were thrilled to see folks representing so many agencies and institutions—within and outside Hawaiʻi—as well as many UH students, gathered together to learn and share knowledge about how seeds are used in ecological restoration and research,” said Seed Conservation Laboratory Manager Marian Chau. “Native seed conservation in Hawaiʻi is at an inspiring stage of expansion, and we are happy that our conference could facilitate this growth.”

The conference focused on conservation efforts in Hawaiʻi. New research and conservation priorities were identified, and the Hawaiʻi Seed Bank Partnership, which has grown to include 60 members representing more than 25 agencies, introduced its upcoming Seed Bank User’s Guide and associated publications in 2018.

“Another topic I found fascinating was a presentation on the struggles the indigenous people of Aotearoa are facing with regards to being excluded from the decision-making process of conservation projects,” said arboretum student assistant Dylan Pilger from Honolulu Community College. “I hope to learn more about this in the future, because I feel it also has important implications for the conservation work we do here in Hawaiʻi.”