There are several candidates for the oldest viable seed:
- The oldest carbon-14-dated seed that has grown into a viable plant was a Judean date palm seed about 2,000 years old, recovered from excavations at Herod the Great's palace on Masada in Israel. It was germinated in 2005.
- If the above is confirmed by a report in a refereed scientific journal, then the second oldest viable seed would be the carbon-14-dated 1,300-year-old sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China in 1995.
- The "1500 Year Old Cave Bean" is a variety of bean that descends from 3 beans found in a sealed clay pot during an excavation at an Anasazi settlement. The settlement appeared to date to the 6th century A.D., but the seeds were not carbon dated.
- There is a persistent myth that seeds from Egyptian tombs with ages of over 3,000 years were viable The myth was reportedly started by scam artists selling "miracle seed" designed to capitalize on European Egyptomania of the 1800s. In 1897, the claims were tested by the British Museum's director of Egyptian antiquities, E. A. Wallis Budge. Budge provided genuine 3,000-year-old tomb-seeds to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to plant under controlled conditions. The test resulted in none germinating. In 1922 a pea found in Tutankhamen's tomb supposedly germinated and was soon introduced as a new variety, but historians and horticultural experts believe that the origin was a fraud and that the pea was actually bought from a vendor at a Cairo market.
- In 1954 an Arctic lupine seed, in glacial sediments believed to be 5,000 years old or older, was found in the Yukon Territory. The seed was germinated in 1966.