New Seed-Collection Zones for the Eastern United States: The Eastern Seed Zone Forum
Reforestation and restoration efforts have traditionally relied on “local” seed sources as planting stock. The term “local” has different meanings in different locales, since no single set of seedcollection zones has yet been widely adopted across the eastern United States. Given concerns about mitigating the effects of climate change, forest managers are increasingly seeking to move seed sources in a process called assisted migration, which would be facilitated if a common set of seed-collection zones were available. We developed a map of 245 seed-collection zones for 37 states by combining two ecologically important layers: plant hardiness zones and ecoregions. These new seed-collection zones should be used by seed collectors and nurseries to describe the origin of seed for plants and trees in the eastern United States. Common garden studies remain the gold standard for determining how far to move seed from any particular seed-collection zone. For species that have not been field-tested, seed movement that is limited either within a seedcollection zone or between adjacent seed-collection zones is a reasonable general guideline.