Contact: Audrey Fusco, Native Plant Nursery Manager, 

Marin Academy Expands Yearly Redwood Tree Research Project

Each year for the past several years SPAWN has partnered with 11th and 12th grade ecology students at Marin Academy to grow redwood seedlings. The ecology students typically study redwood forest ecology and then design a soil blend to help us research what type of soil is best for germination and growth of redwood seedlings. The students each create their own soil blend from a large selection of ingredients and then sow their own flat of seeds. 

Students will create their own soil blend from a large selection of ingredients and then sow their own flat of seeds. 

This year we have adapted the project — the ecology class is helping SPAWN grow nine species of riparian trees, including redwoods! The students broke into groups and each group focused their research on one of the nine tree species. They first researched key topics which are helpful to understanding the particular requirements for propagation of each species. The research topics included species distribution, wildlife connections, riparian bank placement, and more. This information is helpful to understanding how to prepare the seeds for sowing and what type of soil each plant will grow best in. Some species will grow best in sandy soil, for example, and some acidic soil, while other species need nutrient-rich soil or benefit from having mycorrhizae. 

Marin Academy students Kate and Clara sow Blue Elderberry seeds.

The students will monitor and care for the seedlings through the rest of the school year and will donate the plants to SPAWN at the beginning of summer. We are grateful for the research that the students did and look forward to seeing the results of the soil experiments. We were able to improve our redwood soil mix for seedlings thanks to the Marin Academy ecology class project last year and will surely benefit from the research that this year’s ecology class is doing also!

Marin Academy students Brewer and Jackson sow Box Elder seeds.

Marin Academy student Sam sows Tan Oak seeds.