seed collection

Luca Comai comai at U.WASHINGTON.EDU
Thu Dec 16 16:20:45 EST 1993

Dear Network,
my lab has devised a simple seed collector suitable for high density use (many
plants in a small space). It is effective, very cheap, and easy to construct.
The instructions for constructing it are given below. They may sound complicated
but the collector is really very simple. Feel free to ask questions or send
Happy Holidays,
Luca Comai

Seed collector II
Luca Comai and Anna Chinn
Dept. of Botany KB-15
UW, Seattle, WA 98195
comai at

This seed collector is suited for harvesting seed from individual plants grown
in small pots (e.g.: square, 6 cm wide at top, tapered to 4.5 cm at bottom, 8 cm
high). Each pot can be placed next to other pots to achieve high density
1. Adhesive tape, such as VWR or Time-Med pressure sensitive labeling tape 1.8
cm wide. The tape type is not important as long as it sticks and it holds up to
greenhouse conditions 
2. Paper stapler 
3. Plastic film, such as Mylar overhead transparency film (0.002 mil, Vu-Color
). The choice of this film is based on characteristics and availability. We
recycle the film used for lecturing. Other types maybe suitable: experimenting
is the best way to find out whether the film has the right flexibility. Mylar
has one disadvantage: it builds an electrostatic charge that attracts seeds.
However, in our case, the film comes for free and it looks pretty with all the
lecture notes. We prefer instructors who use multicolored pens.
1. Cut sheets 12 cm x 42 cm. Roll them lengthwise on a dowel 33 mm in diameter
and 50 cm long. The long sides will overlap by about 1.3 cm
2. Tape the resulting plastic tube once, at one third the distance from one
extremity. Make a continuous ring of tape for maximum strength
3. Flatten and fold back the end of the tube most distant from the tape, in such
a way that the seam is central and internal to the fold. Staple the sides just
above the fold. The fold line should be 2 cm from the end
4. About 9 cm above the fold, make a cut perpendicular to the tube. The cut will
comprise half or slightly less than half of the circumference and will place the
seam in the center of the cut. The collector is finished
5. Appress the flattened end of the collector to the side of the pot. Place the
cut about 5 cm above the rim of the pot and facing the pot. Tape the collector
to the pot with a full ring of tape
6. Gently spread the cut and introduce the young inflorescence. As secondary
inflorescences are produced guide them in the collector or remove them
7. A plant with a fully developed inflorescence can be easily fitted with a
a. Gently lay the pot on its side so that the inflorescence fits over half a
sheet of standard printer paper (7.5 cm x 26 cm) 
b. Roll the paper to enclose the inflorescence. Make the roll's diameter smaller
than the collector's. Tape the roll to avoid unfolding and pull it to where the
length of the inflorescence-paper roll assembly is longer than that of the
c. Place the pot at the edge of a table with the inflorescence leaning out.
Gently push the rolled inflorescence into the collector. Once fully inserted,
the tip of the paper roll should stick out or be easily reached. Pull the paper
roll out, leaving the inflorescence in the collector
d. Tape the collector as in "5"
The dimension of the collector can be changed to fit any square pot. Its design
can also be modified to fit special situations. We harvest the seed by cutting
the inflorescence at its base, throwing the label into the collector and closing
its ends. Collectors can be washed and reassembled or thrown away. I would
appreciate knowing of any improvement. For big pots and when space is not a
limitation, our previous seed collector (see Compleat guide, AATDB) works well.

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