[pleurothallid-l] Masdevallia pollinia - then to pollination and seed

Ron Maunder pondeeza at enternet.co.nz
Tue Nov 25 09:41:53 EST 2003

We use another method of pollen storage but it does the same job. 
Like Marc I have never tried to hold pollen more than a few months. 
I would think that the pollen would dry out fairly soon and lose 
viability because it is so tiny.

Here's a bit more method about removal and pollination etc for those 
who are newbies.  If the flower has a deep sepaline tube and you 
can't reach the pollen cap with a tooth pick or sharpened match 
stick, then carefully split the caudae back to reveal the petals, lip 
and stigma.  Tear the caudae off carefully and discard. It often 
helps to remove the lip too by pushing it sideways with the stick.

Hold the plant tilted over a black/dark piece of cloth and with a 
wetted stick (saliva will do!) carefully lift the cap off. Its much 
easier to find the tiny cap on a dark background if you lose it and 
its inclined to bounce if it drops onto a hard surface! The pollen 
can be squeezed out of the cap with the tooth pick.  Careful, because 
it can jump! The yellow pollen mass can be parted to give you two 
"flakes" if its in short supply and you want to make several crosses.

Going further to make a cross - it helps to remove the pollen and cap 
from the tip of the stigma of the flower to be pollinated first so it 
doesn't get in the way during the pollination process.  Only one 
piece or flake of pollen is required to effect pollination. Use a 
damp stick to place the pollen "in" the stigmatic cavity.  The seed 
capsule takes 3-5 months to split or mature in my experience.

The "pod" opens on the underside like bomb doors so always watch that 
side for a lightening or a transparency of the green colour. It does 
not (in my experience) split into three parts like any other orchid 
such as cymbidium, cattleya or stanhopea.  The fresh seed can be 
dried for a couple of days then stored in a similar way to the pollen 
until sown.

Thats just the way we do it.  Marc no doubt has another way.

I'd be interested to hear from you Marc sometime as to who your 
famous orchid breeder was!  I'll guess it was Ben, seeing you are 
from the east?


Ron Maunder, New Zealand

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