Gathering Chia Seeds

Are You In for an Adventure?  Here's how to go about gathering chia seeds.  These are the wild columbariae chia I'm talking about.  These are different from the hispanica chia.  You don't need much of these to boost your energy level.  

When my brother, Michael mentioned he wanted to find a large field and harvest the chia seeds later on this summer, I couldn't quite feature how that could be done. They are so tiny. Well, I found out how...

Warning - May Be Illegal in Some States

Keep in mind, it may be illegal to gather wild chia seeds in your county or state. I live in California and it is against the law to pick wild flowers. There may be places set aside for schools or clubs to have outings but I have not checked into that.  

You can also use this information by growing your own columbariae chia plants. The technique for gathering chia seeds would be the same. Michael has the columbariae growing on his own property. That would be ideal.

If you need the seeds, keep reading as I give a couple of places that sell seeds for planting purposes.

When is it Time to Gather Chia?

The California Indians gathered seeds from the wild chia usually at the end of spring just before the seeds fell to the ground following their natural course of growth.

Glen and I went out to see the wild flowers in the Antelope Valley desert. And... what to you know, we found some of the columbariae chia plants growing wild with other wild flowers. In the picture inset (upper left corner), you can see the head of the flower about to shed it's seeds. This one looks like it's just about ready, but there are still some petals there. 

This picture was taken on May 1, so according to my research they were in the middle of their season. I think I would wait a little longer to get more seeds in my collection. But not having any experience gathering these seeds, you will have to be the judge.

If you are really interested in gathering chia seeds, you are likely to find them growing in the following states during the chia season - March through June:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • and... Baja California

Just start looking for the chia plant where you expect to find other desert plants like sagebrush and chaparral (thorny bushes and dense stunted evergreen shrubs). You'll probably want to plan to make several trips to get the best time of harvest. Perhaps sometime in May through June will give you an idea when they are ending their bloom and dry enough to harvest before the seeds naturally fall to the ground.

Just make sure you check with local authorities to see if you need a permit to do it or if it is totally off limits.

Gathering Chia Seeds for Fun or Food

The Indians created their own containers and paddles by weaving them from plant materials. They would hold the flower part over their baskets and beat them with their paddles, allowing the seeds to fall free.

That sounds pretty simple now doesn't it? I found a website with a video that shows a small group of people on such an outing. They took large buckets and a fly swatter. One person did have a woven paddle so you can get an idea of what they look like.

Here's the video:

Reference:  Deborah Small Word Press Blog

If you have an interest in growing your own columbariae chia plants, here's a couple of seed companies you can check out.

Larner Seeds  - When you arrive here, search for "columbariae" since there are a lot of wild flowers on this page.

Ventura Native - This one is easy, you'll see the columbariae chia plants right away.

If you have questions or comments, I'll be happy to respond.  See my email address at the end of this page.

- Janis

For other information about the columbariae chia go to:

Chia Plant from Gathering Chia Seeds