How to Donate Seed to the Seed Counter

Magnolia 'Big Dude'

Do you have magnolia seeds to offer to the Seed Counter? We are looking for open-pollinated and wild-collected seeds as well as seeds from hand crosses. Proceeds from Seed Counter sales support Magnolia Society International research grants, so please consider donating seeds! We prefer that you send cleaned seeds, but we are also able to accept uncleaned seeds. Below are guidelines for collecting and processing seeds.


Collecting seeds

Seeds should be collected just before or just as the seed cones begin to open. (In botanical terminology these seed cones are fruiting structures known as aggregates of follicles.) Record the name of the plant from which you collected the seeds, along with other useful information, such as age, size, and anything unusual about it. In addition, mention whether there are nearby magnolias that might cross with it.


Let the seed cones sit in a dry, well-ventilated location. Over a few days most individual follicles will open fully to reveal the bright orange or red seeds. Remove the seeds from the seed cones. Ideally, try to send 100-400 seeds per collection. Smaller batches are valuable also, but may not be placed on the seed list if demand will so outstrip supply that nearly everyone will be disappointed. Such small seed batches are usually sent out as “bonus” seeds with regular seed orders.


If sending uncleaned seeds, place each batch in a labeled plastic bag and send them as soon as possible for cleaning (see "Shipping" below for mailing information).


Cleaning seeds

We prefer to receive cleaned seeds. To clean seeds:

  1. Place seeds in cool water mixed with liquid detergent (one "squirt" per bowl) for 1-3 days to soften the outer seed coat. Remove and discard any floating seeds.
  2. Once softened, remove the fleshy, red outer seed coats of the "sinkers" by squeezing individual seeds or rubbing seeds in a kitchen colander or large tea strainer. Most outer seed coat material will float once separated from the seeds.
  3. Rinse the cleaned seeds in soapy water to remove the oily residue; several rinses may be necessary.
  4. Let the seeds dry an hour or so at room temperature on paper towels (until excess moisture dries), and then place them in a sealable plastic bag with a small amount of moist peat moss. Note: Do not store the seeds dry, as they rapidly lose viability under those conditions.
  5. Place bags of seeds in the refrigerator (not the freezer!). Be sure to keep each seed batch labeled and separate from others to avoid confusion and accidental mixing.
  6. Please mail cleaned seeds before November 20 or after January 1, so seeds don't sit in a post office during the busy holiday season.


Shipping seeds

Mail seeds to:

Spartanburg Community College
Attn: Kevin Parris, Arboretum Director
P.O. Box 4386
Spartanburg, SC 29305


Please send cleaned seeds before November 20 or after January 1, so seeds don't sit in a post office during the busy holiday season.   Send uncleaned seeds immediately after harvest, and make sure they will arrive before November 20.    

Please contact Kevin Parris ( or Ethan Guthrie ( with any questions.

 Thanks to all of you in advance for helping the Seed Counter!

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