16 Newly Released Heirloom Plants

The nonprofit Seed Savers Exchange has announced 16 newly available heirloom varieties you can buy and grow at home.

By Alicia Chilton
January / February 2018

What’s old is always new again in the world of heirloom gardening. Historic and treasured plant varieties, often dating back centuries, offer a sense of discovery and wonder when grown in our 21st century, digital universe. That wonder is what the 16 newly offered seeds in the 2018 Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) catalog aim to capture. All of the varieties reveal a peek into our past while remaining relevant today.

Old, uncommon and dripping with history, heirloom plants retain the same properties and rich tastes they’ve boasted for generations. Knowing where varieties originated, and when, is as important as the seeds themselves, giving thanks to the ancestors who saved them and the gardeners who continue to grow them. “Food brings people — families, communities, neighbors — together,” says Lee Buttala, Seed Savers Exchange’s Executive Director. “And food grown in our backyards, from seeds that have a story, strengthens our sense of togetherness and unity.”

Bringing heirloom seeds back into our gardens — and the flavors onto our tables — is the driving force behind SSE’s work. While the nonprofit preserves 25,000 rare, heirloom and historic varieties in a seed bank for future generations, the organization also strives to put those seeds into the hands of modern gardeners. SSE is not a seed company, but a nonprofit that uses the proceeds of its sales to support the ongoing preservation of our seed heritage.

New from the Collection


‘Isle of Naxos’ Basil: A lettuce-leaf strain, this tall basil grows 24 to 30 inches and produces a steady crop of large, lush leaves if its flowers are pinched off regularly. The basil comes from longtime SSE member and advisor David Cavagnaro, who received it from Jana Muhar, who collected the seeds while living on the Greek island of Naxos.