“Many of them may be empty or infested with insects or some sort of disease, so it’s important for us to clean them out as much as we can,” Taylor explained.
“We want the best quality collection but space is limited even in our bank vaults.”
The seeds are X-rayed for diseases, and each is given its own identification card, with its name, country of origin and date of arrival at MSB.
The seeds are then stored in glass jars before scientists – dressed like Arctic explorers – store them in underground vaults built to withstand flooding, bombing and radiation at minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus four degrees Fahrenheit). is taken up to
The largest collection of seeds is from the orchid family.
But there are also rare plants, such as the world’s smallest water lily and Deschampia antarctica, also known as Antarctic hair grass, one of two flowering plants that are native to the frozen continent.
MSB, which receives public funds and donations, has partnerships with 90 countries.
Some, such as Indonesia, refuse to share their seeds with the MSB, but keep them on their territory and take responsibility for their conservation.
However, others seem out of reach. One of Dickey’s few regrets is that he has no ties to Iran.