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Removing and storing pollen

Discussion in 'Everything Else Orchid' started by Marni, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I was going to send this privately to a member, but decided others might be interested. This is how I take out pollen (from an Aeranthes grandiflora in this case) and pack it for storage or shipping.

    I have pulled down the lip for easier access.


    Tip of the toothpick is showing the anther cap that covers the pollinia

    Pull the anther cap back to uncover the pollinia.


    Sometimes the pollinia are inside the anther cap that has been removed, sometimes (as in this case) it is still attached to the column, and sometimes it flips out/drops out and gets lost on the table. The anther cap is in front of the flower here and you can see where the pollinia fit inside it.


    A close-up showing the pollinia. The upper one is still in place and the lower one is slightly out of position put still attached to the column by a stretchy sticky filament that would normally attach itself to the pollinator.

    pollen1.jpg pollen2.jpg pollen3.jpg pollen4.jpg pollen5.jpg
     
    J E likes this.
  2. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Here I use forceps (tweezers) to remove one of the 2 pollinia from the column.


    These are the pollinia. The "tail" on it is sticky and will just as happily stick to the forceps as to where you really want it to go.


    I place them on the sticky part of a PostIt note and circle them. That is especially important if you have very small pollinia. In this case, they are pretty easy to see.


    Fold the paper in half so the pollinia are held in place. This method avoids the pollinia getting lost or falling out of the envelope when it is opened.


    I label the note with the the species, clone, date and how many sets are in there.


    This can be stored in the refrigerator in a container. The butter keeper works well. I've never tried it, but I am told it can be frozen also.
    pollen6.jpg pollen7.jpg pollen8.jpg pollen9.jpg pollen10.jpg
     
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  3. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    This is a great thread, Marni. Thank you!
     
  4. MiKa

    MiKa Active Member Supporting Member

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    Outstanding thread!
     
  5. Reyna

    Reyna Orchid Obsessed Supporting Member

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    Great photo tutorial. So glad you decided to post it. The post-it note technique is a good idea. I have mailed pollinia in empty pill gel caps. This would be a much simpler package to mail. Do they get squished going through the mail?
     
  6. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I forgot to mention that for long term storage, I usually put the post it in a glassine envelope (the kind used by stamp collectors). I don't worry much about squashing the pollen (though others do) and just wrap it in a paper towel or use a padded envelope. Some people make elaborate enclosures of layers of cardboard with a cut out in the middle to protect it. With seed it is very important to keep it from getting crushed.
     
  7. Sharon

    Sharon New Member

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    Thank you! I am new to this forum (and fairly new to orchid growing). I plan to read up on the posts and learn, learn, learn. Yours was the one that brought me to this forum. Again, thank you for such an educational post.
     
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  8. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Sharon, thank you and welcome to OI.
     
  9. keithrs

    keithrs Member

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    Indeed... Well done tutorial!
     
  10. Alexey

    Alexey Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Great tutorial Marni! Looks like you are not using desiccant for storing pollen. Have you noticed any difference?
     
  11. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have no basis for. I didn't hear about desiccant until a couple years after I started storing pollen. By that time I was happy with the way things were working out and decided life was already complicated enough. Have you tried both ways?
     
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  12. Alexey

    Alexey Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    No desiccant in my practice also. So far, the oldest pollen which was taken after ~ four months of storing, was Den scabrilingue pollen.
     
  13. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've used some at 2 years and had success.
     
  14. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Marni, can you still use the pollen if people send you the whole flower? I have no problem to collect the pollen from a big flower but it will be a different story for tiny flowers like some of those from Pleurothallids.
     
  15. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Tom, the small flowers aren't as daunting as you may think. It used to make me really nervous, but now I find I can get the pollen out of anything, though sometimes I still have trouble getting in the right place going on to the next flower. I think schoenorchis species have teflon where they should have a sticky fluid to receive pollen. If you send the whole flower, the chances are that it will get spoiled or be very hard to distinguish pollen from petal. It works better if you can at least knock off the anther cap with the pollinia in it.

    I spread out a piece of paper on the table. I used to use black construction paper but now I have some black tiles. The pollen/anther can flip out of control and this makes it easier to find it. The anther cap is usually designed to lift up and expose the pollinia as the insect is backing out of the flower. So I try to get just a bit below the anther with the toothpick and lift up. You can see this in the 2nd and 3rd images. Most of the time on small flowers, the pollinia remain inside the anther cap. I get the anther with the pollinia in it an gently press on it (sometimes takes a few tries to find the right angle) and usually the pollinia are pushed out.

    For masdevallias/pleurothallis and some others it can make it much easier if you remove all the parts but the column. In most cases, just using a toothpick to bend back the petals and lip they will break and give you easy access.
     
  16. Tom-DE

    Tom-DE Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Marni. I will do some practice on those tiny one...
     
  17. Tyson

    Tyson Ex-Situ

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    Thanks for this!
     
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  18. chicago chad

    chicago chad Active Member

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    Thanks Tyson for bringing this back up. This is important info that has to be shown to most people one on one but Marni, you showed it clearly.

    My issue has been removing pollen from tiny plants as Tom mentioned.

    Do you ever use anything other than a toothpick for Lepanthes or Restrepias?

    For example, did you do anything differently for, let's say, Lepanthes tsubotae?
     
  19. Marni

    Marni Well-Known Member Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I use a very fine ophthalmic forceps for all smaller things. And now that I have a number of them I use them for most everything. Sometimes a needle can be used, but the forceps work the best. Lepanthes are a bit trickier than most things. I can now find the pollen, but the stigma is a mystery unless you look at detailed drawings or under a 10x or more magnification.
     
  20. chicago chad

    chicago chad Active Member

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