Rescue plans for seeds in a war zone

Svalbard Global Seed Vault drafts plans for first ‘return-to-sender’ mission for crop varieties at risk in war-torn Syria

Photo courtesy Global Crop Diversity Trust

Photo courtesy Global Crop Diversity Trust


How a blood bank saved some seeds

I’m hoping that this story will have a happy update, because this statistic dates from 2010. But according to Kew, there were only nine Gladiolus aureus plants left in the wild. Nine.

Gladiolus aureus in flower at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens (Photo: G. Duncan) from

Gladiolus aureus in flower at Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens (Photo: G. Duncan) from

They are hanging on for dear life in the wind-blown part of Cape Town’s south peninsula, near where I live.

Luckily these beauties are being cultivated widely in botanical gardens and by amateur enthusiasts.

That they are there at all is thanks to an enterprising botanist, and a hospital blood bank.

You’ll find some of the story here

And more in The Seed Thief. Although the truth of the story is way stranger than my ficitonalised telling of it!

Jozi launch

On Thursday 20 August we’ll be launching at Love Books In Melville. I am thrilled and honoured to be in conversation with Michele Magwood, who was a mentor to me in my early days in magazine jounrnalism and is a veritable doyenne of South African books.

seed thief invite LOVE BOOKS

Big boost for fynbos protection!


© Peter Chadwick on

Wonderful news: the WWF just announced that the size of the original Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas (CFRPA) World Heritage Site has been doubled!

Read all about it here:

Then get thee to Cape Town and go for a walk in the flowers.

The Seed Thief Music – a Playlist

The book is printed but not yet on the shelves, so here’s a musical preview while you wait: a playlist of songs that are either in The Seed Thief, or helped inspire the story.

If you’re into Brazilian music, you’ll find something to love here. (It’s not all Brazilian, but most of it is, since you can never have too much of that.) If you’re discovering these songs for the first time, I hope they’ll kick off a journey of new musical exploration.

So far we’ve loaded Rdio, Spotify and Simfy versions (for the South African audiences). Apple Music playlist coming soon…

Happy listening!