Created in 1822 by André Thouin, an eminent botanist and agronomist who led the Agriculture and Gardening Chair at the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, the Graineterie is now part of the Department of Botanical and Zoological Gardens at the Jardin des Plantes. Within the Graineterie, the Banque de Graines du Muséum (BGM) is the biggest seed bank in the country due to its diverse collection, and is one of the leading seed banks in Europe.

La Graineterie [Réal. Sébastien Pagani, © MNHN]

The active “nature” collection (8,000 to 10,000 preserved samples)
The seeds are harvested in the wild on missions lasting 15 days, organised every year in various French regions and sometimes other European countries. They are kept in a cold room with relatively low humidity, ensuring a germinative capacity of several decades. These harvests add to the variety of species in the collection and guarantee that it contains wild plants with no hybridisation. This active collection is used for exchanges between national and international organisations, by means of a short catalogue named “index seminum”, published every year.

The active “garden” collection (2,500 species per year)
The seeds are harvested in various areas of the Muséum’s Jardin des Plantes and from the seed crops in the Graineterie’s cultivated areas. They are used to reconstitute seed stocks, to multiply and produce young plants to safeguard our vegetal heritage, and to reconstitute the garden’s annual presentations;

The “Ensconet” collection (conserving the diversity of French flora)
These seeds concern certain wild species of French flora that have been selected for long-term conservation, as part of the European native species conservation programme “Ensconet”. They are stored in freezers (4,137 samples stored since 2006)

Further information:

The reference collection (Carpothèque-Séminothèque fruit and seed libraries)
This collection contains dried and alcohol-preserved fruits which are of interest for heritage and educational reasons, and above all a very large collection of dead seeds, stored in bagged, classified paper envelopes. It offers great potential for future work on seed morphology.

This reference collection is divided into two collections:

  • world flora (25,000 samples): this collection is essentially formed of fruits and seeds brought back from various journeys by generations of botanists and naturalists, from all the continents, from 1860 to the present day.
  • French flora (5,000 samples): the seeds come from various regions and biotopes in France and were collected from the 1950s to the present day.

Glass cases contain fruits and seeds which, due to their particular and sometimes spectacular shapes and colours, display amazing diversity and astonishing adaptations to their natural environment. They provide an interesting learning aid.

Since 2004 and the introduction of the European Native Seed Conservation Network (“Ensconet” Programme), of which the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle is a European partner, the Banque de graines has been involved in new activities (gathering, conservation, enrichment and standardisation of the computer database, dissemination, etc.) which are likely to continue and diversify as part of a future European programme named “Enscri”.

Index seminum de Samoens

Index seminum de Paris


Eric Joly, Directeur du Département des Jardins Botaniques et Zoologiques
Yves Pauthier, Responsable de la Banque de Graines 
Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle – DJBZ
Banque de Graines - BP 45
57 rue Cuvier
F - 75231 Paris Cedex 05
Tél. : 00 33 (0)1 40 79 33 19
Fax : 00 33 (0)1 40 79 38 23
Courriel :