Purpose:

The ABS Seeds for Conservation initiative began in 2020, and was born following a generous donation from an ABS member to support the ABS Seed Fund and Conservation. Members of this committee commit to grow vulnerable species with the intent to pollinate, collect, and donate seeds to the ABS Seed Fund as well as other growers and institutions committed to conservation. Some species do not easily produce flowers and for those plants, efforts are made to grow, propagate, and share so that they are in cultivation.

The American Begonia Society – Seeds for Conservation Committee Mission Statement

  • Promoting ex-situ conservation of vulnerable begonias through education, research, growing and pollinating vulnerable begonias
  • Providing seeds to the ABS Seed Fund, and
  • Maintaining living plants for the purpose of sharing seeds

Begonia abdullahpieei is one of the many threatened endemic begonias in Peninsular Malaysia. | Photo: Harmony Begonias

Involvement

Those who participate in this conservation work collaborate to gather information about natural habitats and growing conditions of vulnerable species, share strategies for replicating these conditions, and also how to best grow these plants so that they flower and can be pollinated. In fact, reports and photographs of these species as they grow are a requirement and met with enthusiasm by those who participate.

The Seeds for Conservation Committee also makes formal outreach to botanical gardens, botanists, researchers, and others for their guidance on identifying Begonia species that are most threatened, so that they are not lost forever.

Focus

There are many described species that are critically endangered, such as B. lyniceorum, B. abdullahpieei, and B. bullatifolia. There are, however, many undescribed species that are also critically endangered and because they are not described, they receive little attention. The Seeds for Conservation Committee focuses on these species, and also gives attention to Begonia species in areas where there is significant deforestation, such as Madagascar.

B. lyniceorum | Photo: Michael Kartuz

B. promethea in situ, Borneo | Photo: Michael Lo, The rainforests of Borneo & Southeast Asia

B. bullatifolia | Photo: Rick Schoellhorn

Outreach

Seeds are a valuable and effective means of supporting conservation by allowing distribution to a great number of others and therefore, increasing cultivation of these vulnerable species.