Information for Spore Donors

Welcome to spore donation!

If you are thinking of donating spores, or want to refresh your memory of the guidelines as an old hand at donation, the following notes should give you the basic information you need.

If you haven’t collected spores before and would appreciate some advice on the best methods to try, please click here for further information.

What can I donate?

We accept spores from all types of ferns, both hardy and exotic and from species and cultivars. Most donations are from ferns growing in members gardens, but we also accept wild collected spores, provided these have been legally collected. The reputation of the British Pteridological Society is at risk if we offer spores that have been collected illegally, or that do not have permission for distribution. This could do harm to future attempts to people who want to collect legitimately. The British Pteridological Society is not able to check every submission, so please do not submit spores that would put our reputation at risk.

Legislation varies from country to country, but the position in the UK is that collecting small amounts of spores is legal EXCEPT where either the species (such as Woodsia’s) or the place (such as SSSI’s) are specially protected. If you are collecting in other countries, please check local requirements before submitting any spores to the exchange.

Before collecting spores, please try to ensure that the plant you are collecting from is true to name. We try not to add to the confusion of fern names by distributing incorrectly named spores!

If you have no name for the plant, but simply a genus, origin and a description (often this is the case for wild collected spores), this is fine, but please supply all the information you can. An entry in the spore list of ‘Polystichum species’ will only attract a few requests, but ‘Polystichum species, hardy zone 8, 2ft, evergreen’ may well be very popular.

Naturally, we welcome donations of cleaned spores. Cleaning them yourself not only helps us, but can be very satisfying and will ensure that you know that what you’re sending in are indeed spores. Unfortunately we sometimes receive well intended donations of fronds which are not quite fertile, or material collected late which is almost entirely “chaff” – bits of indusium etc. In order to help you avoid these we have prepared notes to guide you with the timing of collecting and with spore cleaning.

Having said all that, if you feel uncertain about cleaning, or simply don’t have the time, please send in whatever you can and we will always do our very best to ensure that your donation gets onto the list.

How much is suitable?

We are able to use very small amounts of cleaned spores. On average, only around 4-6 packets of any taxa are requested each year, and each packet contains only a small pinch of spores. Additionally, we will include taxa in the list even if we only have 1 or 2 packets, so the minimum volumes required are tiny.

At the other extreme, even the most popular generally receive 20-25 requests per year, so a half teaspoon of cleaned spores would be more than enough for the exchange.

Where do I send them?

Please send all donations to the following address:-

BPS Spore Exchange,
19, Westfield Road,
CF37 3AG,
United Kingdom

When should I send them?

Obviously, you may be harvesting spores at many times of year and, for most spores, it is OK to let them build up and send them in one package, or to send them as and when you collect them. Please send them when most convenient for you. If you can store them sealed in a fridge during this process, so much the better.

The main list is produced annually in December and published on January 1st each year. So, this list would only include spores received by the beginning of December. However, any spores arriving after that date will simply be stored and included in the next list.

The only exception to this is GREEN SPORES, which have a very short viability and should be sent to us AS SOON AS POSSIBLE after harvesting. Most donations in this category are of Osmunda or Osmundastrum, but Todea, Leptopteris, Lygodium, Grammitis, Hymenophyllum and Trichomanes should also be sent as soon as they are harvested. We then contact any interested members and send them on within a few days.

Anything else?

If we can be of any further help, please e-mail us

And, as a potential donor, a very big………….Thank you!

Brian and Sue Dockerill

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