Question Sheet: Seeds of the Future


Before reading:

  1. Based on the title, what do you predict the article will be about?
  2. Can plants become endangered like animals can? If so, what are some of the

    threats that plant species might face?

During reading:

  1. Why is American bittersweet in peril?
  2. What are the goals of the Millennium Seed Bank?
  3. What is “suspended animation”? Why might scientists want to put seeds in

    this state?

  4. Name two reasons that some native plants species are endangered in the

    United States.

  5. What are the ideal conditions for storing seeds?
  6. Describe some of the challenges that workers face while trying to collect


  7. What percentage of North American flowering plant species has the Seeds of

    Success program already collected?

After reading:

  1. Why do seed banks save seeds instead of entire plants or other parts of


  2. What kinds of scientists might work at a seed bank?
  3. Workers face different challenges when collecting seeds in an urban area

    compared to a rural one. Compare the process of collecting seeds in both

    environments. What obstacles might people face in each type of place?

  4. Do you think seed banks are the most efficient way to preserve plants? Other

    strategies include keeping gardens of native plants and trying to destroy all

    invasive plants. Compare the pros and cons of each strategy.

  5. What native plants need protection in your area? Research the native plants

    that grow near where you live. Then, make a list of five plants that should be

    stored in a seed bank. Explain your choices.

  6. How can kids help protect native plants? Design a program that would inspire

    people your age to protect plants in your area.


  1. Raging wildfires recently destroyed a lot of plants in Southern California.

    Research the vegetation that normally grows in that area. Then, make a list of

    native and invasive plants that you think may have been harmed in the fires. For

    a list of links that might be helpful, see (Tom

    Chester and Jane Strong).

  2. Why do you think the United States government chooses to hold on to 600

    million acres of land? What does the government do with that land?


  1. Research an invasive plant in your area. How did the species get there? Is

    anyone taking steps to fight it? If so, what are they doing, and are those

    efforts working?

  2. What do you think a seed storage facility looks like? How is it organized?

    Make a drawing of a seed bank. Be sure to label all the parts of your



Using facts presented in the story, figure out what percentage of the world’s flowering plants live in North America north of the Mexican border. Since some of the numbers in the story are estimates, an approximation is OK.