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CDFA Seed Herbarium

General Information About The CDFA Seed Herbarium


Dr. Robert Price
E-mail: rprice@cdfa.ca.gov
Phone: 916-738-6700

For further information or to arrange a visit, please contact one of the Curators.

Map and Directions

History of the CDFA Seed Laboratory and the Seed and Fruit Herbarium

Seed Herbarium

Governor William D. Stephens signed the California Pure Seed Act into law on August 2, 1921. In essence, the CDFA Seed Laboratory was created, as required by the Act, to test the quality of seed sold in California. The new laboratory was a joint venture with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 1922, the USDA Seed Lab moved from its location at the University of California, Berkeley to join with the CDFA Seed Laboratory, located at 1217 L Street, Sacramento. The lab was relocated to 1220 N Street, in 1955. In 1964, the CDFA-USDA Seed Lab separated, forming independent labs. The CDFA Seed Laboratory remained at the N Street location, while the western regional USDA Seed Laboratory moved across town. The Seed and Fruit Collection (SFC) was split between the two labs. In 1982, the USDA consolidated all its seed laboratories into one, thereby closing the USDA Seed Lab in Sacramento. The seed collection from the USDA Seed Lab was reunited with the state collection. In 1994, the CDFA Seed Laboratory and the CDA Seed and Fruit Collection were moved to the Plant Pest Diagnostics Center on Meadowview Road. Mandate for CDFA Seed Laboratory now resides under the California Seed Law, Section 52288, and the California Seed Inspection Program works in cooperation with the Federal Seed Act .

The CDA Seed and Fruit Collection (SFC) is the second largest collection of its kind in North America. Originally developed with representative species found in California agricultural situations, the collection has grown to include species from all over the world. As of August 2007, the CDA SFC contains approximately 40,000 specimens. Major contributions to the CDA SFC were made by the following organizations:

  • Department of Agronomy and Range Science, University of California, Davis, B. Crampton and P. B. Kennedy curators. Donated in 1987.
  • USDA Seed Laboratory, Sacramento, D. Baxter curator. Donated in 1989.
  • California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, B. M. Browning curator. Donated in 1990.
  • International Cucurbit Network, Fort Collins, Colorado, D. Decker-Walters curator. Donated in 2005.
  • Redwood City Seed Company, Redwood, California, C. Dremann curator. Donated in 2005.

Recently, the Seed Laboratory began a long-term project to database the entire CDA SFC and make the data available on the Web.

The Seed Laboratory maintains a reference library devoted to seed science and seed technology. A searchable database containing over 11,000 entries of books, scientific journals, and literature files is available for use by staff and visitors to the laboratory.

Collections Use Guidelines

CDA Seed and Fruit Collection (SFC)

The CDA Seed and Fruit Collection (SFC) is available for use by all CDFA staff and visiting scientists. The CDA SFC is the reference collection for CDFA diagnostic work. Specimens are not available for loan. However, visitors to the Seed Laboratory are welcome to use the collection by appointment (Monday – Friday, 9 am to 4pm). A workstation equipped with a microscope is available for use.

Seed Laboratory Library

Books, scientific journals and literature files are available for use by all CDFA staff and visiting scientists. The materials are not available for loan, although on-site photocopying is permitted.

Among the numerous reference materials, we are fortunate to have complete sets of the following publications:

Published by the Association of Official Seed Analysts (AOSA):

  • Proceedings of the Association of Official Seed Analysts, 1914 - 1975
  • Journal of Seed Technology, 1976 - 1994
  • AOSA News Letter, 1929 – 1997

Published by the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists (SCST):

  • Proceedings of the Society of Commercial Seed Technologists
  • SCST News, 1962 – 1997

Joint AOSA/SCST Publications:

  • AOSA/SCST Proceedings 1998 – present
  • The Seed Technologist Newsletter 1998 – present
  • Seed Technology, 1998 – present

Published by the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA):

  • Proceedings of the International Seed Testing Association, 1924 - 1972
  • Seed Science and Technology, 1973 – present
  • ISTA News Bulletin, 1966 – present

The Seed Laboratory serves as the archive and database manager for the AOSA/SCST Referee-Research Projects Reports. Coverage includes reports from 1971 to present. Requests for copies of reports should be directed to the Collection Manager.

Bulk Seed Collection

Specimens from the 600+ species in the Bulk Seed Collection are available upon request, free of charge, for the purpose of seed herbarium enhancement. These specimens are non-viable. To request specimens, please enclose coin envelopes or specimen vials, labeled with the family AND scientific names. Please limit requests to no more than 30 species at one time.

The Bulk Seed Collection is also available for visiting scientists to gather their own specimens. To speed up the process, we recommend that you pre-label your specimen containers before coming to the laboratory. The number of specimens you may acquire per visit is not limited. The collection is open Monday – Friday, 9 am to 4pm.

To arrange a visit for this purpose contact Dr. Robert Price.

To request specimens by mail, fill out the first page of the request form . Note, only the first page should be mailed with the enclosed coin envelopes or specimen vials. The remaining pages have the list of taxa available, for your records.