For a list of nurseries of nurseries on the island of Ireland, many of whom supply native Irish trees and shrubs click here. Please specify that you require native trees and/or shrubs of Irish provenance.
Seed may be collected as soon as it ripens on the tree or shrub, or, in the case of larger trees, such as oak, you may wait for seed to fall. In general, seeds change colour as they ripen and are easier to pick, especially from shrubs and small trees. Each seed type has a characteristic colour when ripe so one can tell when they are ready. Click here for further details.
Some trees and shrubs always bear more seed than others of the same species, and many vary in yield from year to year. For example, sessile oak produces copious seed or ‘mast’ on average once every seven years in Ireland. You should choose seed from a healthy looking specimen which is well grown, but also from misshapen trees, which are often the result of poor management, infertile soil or exposure rather than any genetic weakness. Certainly, avoid trees and shrubs which are diseased, for example, with canker (lumps/lesions on the trunk or branches). Try to take seed from as many specimens as possible so as to achieve maximum variability. Seed must be fertile if it is to germinate successfully, so it is best to collect seed where there is a group of trees, i.e. where crosspollination and fertilisation are more likely. Scots pine and Alder seed needs to be collected from trees before the cones open (during the period November to March). Similarly Willow catkins will have to be gathered before the seed is released by the trees and shrubs.
Native tree and shrub seed should be collected from known native woodlands and ancient hedgerows. For example, do not choose species such as rowan or birch trees in a park or beside new roadways or urban areas, which are probably imported and of foreign provenance. Collect from trees growing out in the country, perhaps on marginal land, rough pasture or old woodland. Ensure that you have permission when entering private property.
If you know where the resultant trees will be planted, try to take seed from that area or region. Not only will the genetic match be better, but they are also likely to grow more successfully - after all, they have adapted to grow in those conditions.
If you intend to plant beside a Nature Reserve, a known ancient woodland or Special Area of Conservation (SAC), first consult with NPWS, and subsequently, ask permission to collect seed from the landowner.