Glossary

Annual
Matures and sets seed in one season. Examples are beans, peas, broccoli, and lettuce.

Biennial
Produces vegetative growth the first season and flowers in the second season. Examples are Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Beets, Carrots, Celery, Onions, and Parsnips. They are often crossers (see below), so these are considered Advanced level for seed savers.

Cross-pollinated
Cross-pollinated plants, or “crossers,” are plants with flowers that do not fertilize themselves. They depend upon pollinating insects or wind for pollination. They may have perfect flowers or imperfect flowers, and isolation techniques will need to be used to be sure the seed you save grows true to type.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
GMOs are created by manipulating specific genes through modern molecular biology techniques. They often contain material from an unrelated organism, such as a virus, animal, or other plant. The crops are proprietary to the company that creates them and are often compatible with herbicides and other chemicals that are also sold by that company.

Heirloom
Term generally used to describe a non-commercial, open-pollinated variety kept by families, farmers, or ethnic groups over many generations. Some older (pre-WWII), open-pollinated commercial varieties are often considered heirlooms as well.

Hybrid (or F1)
Intentional, controlled cross between two stable, genetically uniform lines. Developed for large-scale farming, hybrids are vigorous, uniform, and withstand machine harvesting and shipping (not necessarily developed for flavor or nutrition). Seed saved from a hybrid plant will not be the same as the parent plant so do not use for seed saving or sharing.

Isolation
Term used to describe various seed-saving techniques used to keep open-pollinated cultivars pure. Pollen barriers, bloom time, and space are some of the ways to keep undesirable pollen from reaching your plants.

Open-pollinated (OP)
Generally refers to non-hybrid plants whose pollen is transferred naturally by insects, wind, birds, or self-pollination. Open-pollinated and may have perfect or imperfect flowers. Open-pollinated plants are preferred by seed-savers because the seed will usually grow true to type if the proper seed saving techniques are employed. They will also adapt to the climate and growing conditions where they are grown year after year.

Seed
A seed is a complete living plant in an embryonic state. It contains a set of leaves, a stem, a root, and a food supply. Metabolic activity continues even when the seed is dormant, and the seed will react to moisture, temperature, and light.

Self-pollinated
Self-pollinated plants, or “selfers,” have perfect flowers containing both male and female parts. They usually pollinate themselves before they open. Bees sometimes vibrate the blossoms while trying to enter and that helps facilitate pollination. Cross pollination is still possible if bees are persistent in entering the flower or extreme temperatures cause the flower to open early, but this is not the norm. Normally several self-pollinated cultivars of the same species can be grown in close proximity. By using the proper seed saving techniques you can assure the purity of each cultivar.