Does wildflower seed provenance matter?

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Customers sometimes ask “where does your Meadowmat seed come from?” and I’m pleased to be able to say that Meadowmat wild flower turf is grown entirely from seed that is grown and harvested in the UK.

Why does provenance matter?

In terms of producing strong healthy plants, seed provenance doesn’t matter a jot.  The mother plant could be growing in Holland or Hampshire but as long it is pollinated properly and stored correctly, the seed will still grow.

Provenance matters for two reasons; ecology and economy.

Helps UK economy

Growing wild flowers for their seed is labour intensive and needs quite a lot of land.  The grower needs to pay rent for his land, cultivate it, care for the plants and then harvest the seed before cleaning and packaging it.

wild flower seed mixed

All of those things cost money.  It’s not like me to be all political but I do feel that following Brexit and with UK businesses struggling, it’s only right that we should buy British.  Isn’t it?  To be honest with you the price difference between UK wildflower seed and seeds produced elsewhere is not that much.  Not in the big scheme of things.  And if I can help UK business to stay strong, that’s what I’ll do.  Rant over.

Preserving the gene pool

I’m led to believe that there are subtle genetic differences between wild flowers in different countries and areas.  To the naked eye, one oxeye daisy looks very much like another no matter where it originated.  Butterflies and bees don’t seem to care about ethnicity either.

However; many, if not most UK wildflowers have some sort of amazing property that is useful to man as well as to wildlife.  Some have medicinal uses, some are edible, and some can be used to produce dyes.  All of those useful properties are down to the plants’ chemical composition, which in turn is down to genetics.

Nowadays we tend to replicate plant chemicals industrially.  You won’t see many people harvesting weld and using it to make yellow dye anymore.  Neither will you see workers collecting willow bark to make aspirin but those plants still have the ability to produce those chemicals.  If ever we need to go back to basics to redesign industrial processes, we’ll need to start with the basic starting blocks ie the wild flowers.

Those basic genetic building blocks can be used to breed new plants with the same useful properties. 

Take Achillea for example.  The wild version is Achillea Millefoilium (Yarrow) and has white flowers.  It can be used medicinally to treat tendon problems.  Man has bred several different coloured versions of this plant for use in gardens – they’re very pretty and very hardy.  But do they have the same medicinal properties?  To be honest, I don’t know.  Should we preserve the wild version in case we ever need to replicate the useful chemicals in it? Absolutely yes!

Science is forever moving forward

Scientists are continually discovering new medicines and perfecting new industrial processes.  We owe it to them to preserve the gene pool from plants that our ancestors found so useful.  They are still an important resource and doubtless will continue to be.

Climate change

Some may say that seed from plants grown in hotter climes may not fare so well when grown in the milder wetter UK. I suppose it makes sense, but I have no evidence to say whether or not it’s true.  I can’t use that as an argument for the importance of local provenance, I’ll leave that one for you to decide for yourself.

Should you buy wildflower seed with local provenance?

In my humble opinion, yes, you absolutely should buy British.  The ultimate decision though is yours.

 

Where to buy wildflower seed with UK provenance

 

Where to buy wildflower matting with UK provenance

 

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