BLOG: Seed Gathering Season

7th October 2020

Seed gathering season runs between the 22nd September, the official start of autumn, and 22nd October. It has been organised by the Tree Council since 1998 and aims to provide trees for the future by gathering and planting seeds today.

What does it involve?

Across the month, as many people as possible are encouraged to get out and about, looking for the seeds of our native trees. Once gathered, seeds can be planted and grown to provide the next generation of trees. 

Why is seed gathering important?

Our forests and woodlands have never been more important. Trees are key players in helping us to battle climate change as they lock up carbon from our atmosphere. They also provide natural habitats and ecosystem services, such as temperature regulation and flood management.

Despite this, trees are increasingly at threat. They are becoming progressively more vulnerable to pests and diseases, such as Ash die back, as well as being lost for a variety of other reasons. Growing trees now ensures that there are strong, healthy trees available to restock areas in the future. This helps to green communities with trees which are adapted to local conditions, thereby conserving character and diversity.

Why take part?

There are a multitude of reasons for why seed gathering is valuable to both communities and wildlife. Getting out into your local green spaces is beneficial for mental and physical wellbeing, bringing people closer to nature and making the outdoors accessible to everyone.

By growing trees from seeds, you also help to provide a future habitat for wildlife, do your bit to fight climate change and protect vulnerable trees and woodlands.

Types of tree seeds

Different species of trees produce seeds in varying forms, such as fruits, nuts and cones. For example, oak trees produce acorns whereas hawthorn trees produce berries. If you want to grow a specific tree, it is best to do some research beforehand to know what you are looking for. Look at our Go Wild Seed Spotter sheet to help you identify the seeds of common species.

Where can you find seeds?

Although they can be transported by animals, wind and water, you are most likely to find tree seeds close to the tree they have come from. Try looking on the ground in your local parks, woodlands and green spaces.

How to seed gather responsibly

Only collect seeds which have already fallen from the trees rather than pulling them off and only collect what you need so that you leave some as food for wildlife. Make sure to collect seeds from public land and where it is safe to do so. Do not eat anything unless you are 100% sure of what it is and that it is safe to consume.

What to do with seeds?

The simplest method is to grow seeds in a small pot of compost. For each seed:

  1. Fill a small plant or yogurt pot with compost and plant your seed approximately 2cm deep. Cover it with compost.
  2. Water so the soil is moist and place in a well-ventilated, well-lit location.
  3. Eventually, the plants will need to be moved outside. Move them outside during spring or summer when the weather is milder so that they acclimatise.
  4. Keep young trees well fed and watered then after 1-2 years, your saplings will be ready to plant! 


More detailed guidance can be found on the Tree Council website and TCV website.