A single seed holds the potential for a living and functioning plant. A seed bank preserves this potential for up 200 years by reducing the internal moisture of seeds and then freezing them. The Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank is the only seed bank in the world that focuses conservation efforts on the native species of the tallgrass prairie, one of the most endangered habitats in the world. We collaborate with botanic gardens and federal agencies across the USA in a national seed banking effort: Seeds of Success. This partnership of botanic gardens and federal agencies aims to safeguard the entire US flora, and has collected the seeds of 12,000 native species.  Each botanic garden or agency focuses upon safeguarding their own regional flora, as well as providing seed for storage at the national level via the USDA.  Seed collected and stored under the cooperating partners of SOS is available through the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).

The Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank at the Chicago Botanic Garden takes the long view of plant conservation. We collect species with high restoration importance from each of the ecoregions of the tallgrass prairie system, thus serving as a valuable restoration collection for conservation purposes and as a resource for a wide community of scientists and land managers.

Seed banking - conserving and storing species away from their original habitats - enables plants to escape threats imposed by destructive habitat changes including urbanization, climate change, invasive species, over-harvest, and pollution. For every 1% reduction in seed moisture content and every 5°C reduction in temperature, the lifespan of a seed is doubled, making seed collection an efficient and cost-effective way to conserve the diversity of plant species for generations to come.