Seed Harvest

Shooting Star Seeds

Shooting Star Seeds

When is the best time to harvest seeds?  The secret? A dry day, after the dew dries off.  Afternoon is better than morning.

Throughout the growing season, observe your plants as they bloom and then set seed.  Any flower that was will eventually have a seed to harvest in its place.  Early spring ephemerals may set seed in May or June.   Look for signs that the seeds are maturing.  For example, Shooting Star seed capsules should turn brown some, such as the picture on the side of this page.  If the stem is turning brown, that is also a sign that the seeds are ready to be harvested.  Wild Geranium and Columbine seeds will also mature in early summer, shortly after the flowers have stopped blooming.  Sedges will flower and set seed throughout the spring and summer, so be observant and collect when you see the signs.  Goldenrod, asters and most of the grasses, being later to bloom, may not be ready to harvest until September or even late October.   As you collect seeds, place them into a brown paper bag, label the bag with the plant name and date and store in a dry area.

One of our chapter’s most popular events is the Annual Seed Exchange in early November.  You are welcome to bring your packaged and labeled seeds to exchange for others.  FYI, if you manage a nature preserve, be aware that members and friends bring seeds collected in their home gardens, so we cannot document the provenance of these plants, be it from a local nursery or somewhere outside our growing zone.

The following native species have been offered at our Seed Exchange in recent years. 

Refer to for detailed information.


Actaea rubra – Red Baneberry

Aquilegia canadensis – Wild Columbine

Arisaema triphyllum – Jack-in-the-Pulpit 

Cimicifuga racemose – Black Cohosh

Heracleum maximum – Cow Parsnip

Polygonatum commutatum – Solomon’s Seal  

Scrophularia marilandica – Late Figwort

Smilacina racemosa – False Solomon’s Seal

Solidago flexicaulis – Zigzag Goldenrod

Solidago ulmifolia – Elm-leaved Goldenrod


Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion)

Allium stellatum – Cliff Onion

Amorpha canescens – Lead Plant

Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca – Common Milkweed

Asclepias verticillata – Whorled Milkweed

Baptisia alba macrophylla – White Wild Indigo

Baptisia australis – Blue Wild Indigo

Cirsium discolor – Pasture Thistle

Cacalia atriplicifolia – Pale Indian Plantain

Campanula Americana – Tall Bellflower

Coreopsis palmata – Prairie Coreopsis

Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover

Desmanthus illinoiensis – Illinois Bundle Flower

Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower

Echinacea pallida – Pale Purple Coneflower

Gentiana andrewsii – Bottle Gentian

Helianthus occidentalis – Western Sunflower 

Liatris aspera – Rough Blazing Star 

Liatris pychnostachium – Prairie Blazing Star

Lupinis perennis – Wild Lupine

Monarda fistulosa – Bergamot a/k/a Bee Balm

Opuntia humifusa – Eastern Prickly Pear

Pycnanthemum virginianum – Common Mountain Mint

Ratibida pinnata – Yellow Coneflower – a/k/a Gray-headed Coneflower

Rudbeckia triloba – Brown-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta – Black-eyed Susan

Silphium perfoliatum – Cup Plant – RG

Silphium integrifolium – Rosin weed

Solidago rigida – Stiff Goldenrod 

Solidago speciosa – Showy Goldenrod 

Sympyotrichum ericoides – Heath Aster

Symphyotrichum lateriflorus – Calico Aster

Symphyotrichum leave – Smooth Blue Aster

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae – New England Aster

Symphyotrichum ptarmicoides – Upland White Aster

Tradescantia ohiensis – Ohio Spiderwort

Veronicastrum virginianum – Culver’s Root


Cassia hebecarpa – a/k/a Senna hebecarpa Wild Senna

Cassia marilandica a/k/a/ Senna marilandica – Maryland Senna

Eutrochium purpureum – Sweet Joe Pye Weed

Gentiana alba – Cream Gentian

Napaea dioica – Glade Mallow

Rosa blanda – Smooth rose

Thalictrum dasycarpum – Purple Meadowrue


Asclepias incarnata  – Swamp Milkweed (aka Marsh Milkweed) RG

Bidens coronata – Tall Swamp Marigold

Cassia hebecarpa – a/k/a Senna hebecarpa Wild Senna

Cassia marilandica a/k/a/ Senna marilandica – Maryland Senna

Chelone glabra – White turtlehead

Eutrochium maculatum – Spotted Joe Pye Weed 

Helenium autumnale – Sneezeweed

Hibiscus moscheutos – Swamp Rose Mallow

Iris virginica shreve – Southern Blue Flag

Lobelia cardinalis – Cardinal Flower 

Lobelia siphilitica – Great Blue Lobelia

Physostegia virginiana – Obedient Plant

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium – Slender Mountain Mint

Sanguisorba Canadensis American Burnet 

Vernonia fasciculata  – Ironweed 


Celtis occidentalis – Hackberry tree

Cephalanthus occidentalis – Button Bush

Clematis virginiana – vine

Diospyros virginiana – Persimmon tree

Prunus americana – Wild Plum

Prunus virginiana –  Chokecherry


Agropogon – Big Bluestem

Bouteloua curtipendula – Side Oats Grama

Carex davisii – Davis sedge, a/k/a Awned Graceful Stedge

Carex grayi – Bur Sedge

Carex lacustris – Lake Sedge

Eragrostis spectabilis – Purple Love Grass

Diarrhena americana – Beak Grass

Hypericum pyramidatum – Great St. John’s Wort


Celtis occidentalis – Hackberry tree

Clematis virginiana – Virgin’s Bower 

Liriodendron tulipifera – Tulip Tree

Prunus Americana – American Plum 

Prunus virginiana – Chokeberry