All plants and animals are adapted to their environments through genetic selection over many years of interaction between the organism and the environment. The same is naturally true for ash trees being killed by the emerald ash borer. Therefore, as the trees are lost, so is their adaptation to the many environments in which they grow. It is important to preserve this adaptation for forest restoration once the challenge of the EAB has been solved. One of the easiest and more economical methods of genetic conservation for ash is long term seed storage in deep freeze. Ash seed has successfully stored for almost 40 years. It can be expected to store even longer, but 40 years is the longest measurement made to date.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is supporting ash seed collection for genetic conservation of ash in the Great Lakes watershed as a part of the overall efforts to conserve and restore the Great Lakes. This work is in concert with the overall effort of the Forest Service and others to conserve ash genetic resources being lost to the emerald ash borer.


White ash samaras
Green ash samaras
Black ash samaras
Credit: Paul Wray, Iowa State University,



How many seed lots should be collected and from where should they be collected? Ecoregions are geographic areas in which the environment is similar. Therefore, ash trees growing within one ecoregion could be logically expected to have a similar genetic make-up in terms of adaptation to the environment. Genetic tests on many organisms have proven this to be true. Materials on the National Seed Laboratory page can help you identify where to collect seed.

Below are a series of links to assist you in collecting ash seeds:


Thanks to the Forest Service National Seed Laboratory for the information on this page. If you need assistance in planning a proposed collection, please contact Bob Karrfalt at 404-275-5398 or