In general, the value of our living material declines from point of acquisition from the wild. The declining value of cultivated plants is due to a number of factors:
- The genetic variability of seeds collected from cultivated individuals will almost certainly represent a fraction of the potential found in natural populations.
- In general, accuracy of documentation deteriorates over time, leading to accessions of unknown, or at least uncertain, provenance.
- Cultivated plants, particularly in botanic gardens, are susceptible to hybridisation – which may allow two closely related species that would naturally be geographically isolated to come into contact and hybridise.
- Cultivated plants are exposed to different selection pressures than those from wild populations, perhaps filtering out genetic characteristics that bestow fitness in their native habitat, and which are the object of research.
For these reasons, collecting expeditions form a vital component of our activities, and working in close collaboration with partners in different countries, and other collecting organisations, we seek to bring in wild collected plants and seed to enhance our collections. Our current goal is for 40% of our living collections to be of wild-collected provenance.