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millennium seeds

For the creation of its Millennium Seed Bank, holding 2.5 billion seedssamples of plants from 190 countries, described as an exemplary initiative “that reflects how cooperation without borders can advance nature conservation worldwide”.


The MSB is not a single-site operation, but rather a network of interconnected banks located all across the world. These partner seed banks store material in their own countries, and send part of their collections to the MSB, where they are kept in cold storage rooms at 20 below zero. “The seeds we bank at our Kew site,” explains Breman, “are sort of a safety back-up, so if something goes wrong in-country, we can always repatriate material to them.”

Today, the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) holds some 2.5 billion seeds from 190 countries, including Spain. Through its global network of partner organizations, the bank has already safeguarded over 46,000 species, equating to 16% of the world’s seed plants. For Breman, the key to its success has been international cooperation: “None of this would have been achievable,” she says, “without working with the fantastic organizations all over the globe who see the need to conserve their native flora and have joined us in the project.”

Millennium seeds

Hidden underground in rural Sussex is the world’s largest collection of seeds from wild plants.

The world’s largest underground seed bank and conservation resource for diverse wild plant species.

Fully kitted laboratories and seed preparation facilities are also on-site for botanists and geneticists to germinate and study seeds.

Our seed processing

The MSB is part of the Wellcome Trust Millennium building; an energy-efficient location with cold and dry rooms powered by solar panels.

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Millennium seeds

Please note the Millennium Seed Bank will be closed on the morning of 17 January, opening from 12.30pm

Learn about our scientific mission to protect wild plant biodiversity in our underground seed bank.

In fact, many of the plants grown in Wakehurst’s botanic garden started their life in this very place.

Surviving or Thriving: An exhibition on plants and us

Seed collections are stored in the country where they were collected, and a part of the collection is sent to the MSB for safety backup.