The Irish Threatened Plant Seedbank, which is housed at Trinity College Botanic Garden, was initiated in 1994 with a grant from the Heritage Council and the Irish Genetic Resources Conservation Trust.  Collection permits were obtained from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to collect seeds of threatened native plant species using sampling guidelines, initially developed by the Centre for Plant Conservation in the US, to ensure that a representative sample of the genetic variation of a species is collected and stored.

Seed is cleaned of chaff and other sterile material, dried over silica gel to approximately 5% water content, hermetically sealed in pouches and then stored at approximately -20 °C.  Using these approaches seed viability can be maintained for decades and probably centuries; this provides an insurance policy in case conservation efforts with natural wild populations fail.

In the 2000s Trinity College Botanic Garden was part of the ENSCONET consortium of seed genebanks funded through the European Union.  The main aim was to network seed banks across Europe, develop standardised protocols for the collection, curation and storage of wild seed, and provide information about genebank approaches. Trinity College Botanic Garden led the work package dealing with data management. The Irish Threatened Plant Seedbank currently holds over 200 accessions of 59 threatened native species.

Frangula alnus, a threatened native shrub growing in the Burren, County Clare.

This rare prostrate form of the threatened Alder Buckthorn is typical of the upper zones of nutrient-poor turloughs: temporary waterbodies over karst limestone which are listed as Priority Habitats under Annex 1 of the EU Habitats Directive. Trinity Botanic Garden is involved in ongoing turlough conservation research.

Watch this short video on the strategy of Trinity College Dublin's Threatened Plant Seedbank.


Search the ENSCOBASE database to find seed accessions for threatened native plant species that have already been collected in Ireland and are currently held in our Threatened Plant Seed Bank at Trinity College Dublin

Click Here to Visit ENSCOBASE

Developing seed of Dryas octopetala in the rockery at Trinity College Botanic Garden

Carduus nutans, a threatened native thistle species

Achillea maritima, a critically endangered native species of coastal shingle, growing at its only known Irish site. The seed is light-dormant and germinates naturally only after burial, hence protecting it in the shifting substrate until conditions are stable enough to germinate and thrive.