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Inside The Hawaiian Seed Bank – Figuring Out How To Store The Rarest Seeds On Earth

Dustin Wolkis, NTBG’s seed bank manager.

‘We’re losing species right in front of our eyes’

By Alessandra Potenza
The Verge
Jun 21, 2017


Visits to the seed bank at the National Tropical Botanical Garden begin with removing your shoes. The seed bank, on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i, is housed alongside NTBG’s collection of 80,000 dried plant specimens and rare botany books in a building that can withstand Category 5 hurricanes. It does have a vulnerability, though: pests. Funguses or bugs — like booklice — hiding in a visitor’s soles could threaten the collections. For the same reason, anything that’s brought into the building — office supplies, furniture, books — is frozen for two weeks.

To the right of the foyer, where shoes are lined up against the wall, there’s a wooden door leading to room 116: the seed bank and laboratory. It’s a single nondescript room: one side is lined with long tables filled with lamps, trays, and machines; the other is lined with freezers. But this unassuming lab has a remarkable job: if Hawaii’s rare plants — some of the rarest in the world — stand a chance for survival, it’ll be because of the 3 million seeds stored here.

Read the complete article here.