The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed that was about 2,000 years old when it was recovered from excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel. The Judean palm seed was was germinated in 2005 .
In spite the Judean palm seeds were a total success, in general seeds are not always easy to keep. In cool and dry storage conditions seeds tend to last from one year (onions for example) to up to five to ten years in some others. This means that in certain cases, mainly in endangered plant species, keeping the seeds is the main concern of botanists and researchers and the only way to preserve this natural heritage we have received.
In this article we will talk about an experiment initiated 120 years ago by Dr. William James Beal, then professor of botany and forestry at Michigan Agricultural College in East Lansing, Michigan, USA, Dr. Beal's seed viability experiment. Image: Moth mullein by Matt Lavin under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).
Common name: Moth mullein.