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POLLEN EXCHANGE PROJECT - update October 2015

Harris Howland and Alan Mitchell
encouraged members to think seriously about Pollen Exchange in order to increase the setting of seed in reluctant or 'sterile' Lilies thereby increasing the conservation and production of species and interesting hybrids. This is increasingly important as more commercial lily bulb suppliers are turning to tissue culture bulbs for the retail trade. The bulb is cut into hundreds or thousands of tiny identical pieces then cultured in growing medium under sterile conditions before being grown on to identical and thus self -sterile mature bulbs. These lilies are unable to set seed as their 'neighbours' are genetically identical.
See Newsletters Spring 2009 p2-3, Autumn 2009 p2-3, Winter 2009 p2-3, Spring 2010 p4-5 Spring 2012 p9

Results and Requests;
We would like more members to get in to the habit of collecting pollen and storing it in a domestic refrigerator even if they have no intention of using it for cross pollination themselves. Each year a few more members make specific requests and slowly we are able to match these.

Issues: A request from Neil Jordan in Tasmania highlighted an Australian problem for importing pollen. Their Ministry of Agriculture, Fish & Forestry categorise Pollen as plant material requiring expensive and detailed Import Permits, whereas small quantities of seed of any genera may be imported readily so long as it can be directly related to a species listed on the AQIS data base.. Concern over Varoa mite transfer to bees is making a relative ban a possibility unless scientific prevention can be achieved. We are seeking technical advice-if you have expert knowledge or guidance in this field please contact me.

Reflection about the importance of conserving pollen:
So it is vitally important that we keep our pollen available and exchangeable so that species, individual variety and hybrid vigour continues to be enhanced. A tissue cultured bulb fertilised with pollen from a seed raised bulb of the same species should produce viable pollen. Extremely important to our seed list.

Practical points reiterated:
Collecting and storing pollen routinely may make it available to another member at an appropriate time Thus overcoming the time and distance difficulties of the UK as Darm Crook makes clear in Northern Canada let alone in the opposite hemispheres.

However it can be collected in anticipation, preferably on the stamens, dried, folded in kitchen foil and stored in a refrigerator to await a request. The exchange could take place in anticipation of the intended flowering of the recipient. (Spring 2010 p4-5)

So do please contact me with your 'wish list' or offer pollen donation either by post or email to: Tony Dixon, 45 Skegby Lane, Mansfield NG19 6QS, UK



Preparing pollen for exchange or donation: our suggestion

1. When the flower first opens the anthers are closed - i.e. the pollen is not visible.  The anthers then open (unfold) to expose the pollen.  It is when the anthers are open that the pollen becomes suitable for transferring to the stigma of another lily or collecting for the pollen exchange.

2. On a still, dry day collect the pollen by using tweezers (which are easily cleaned) to remove the anthers

3. Use aluminium foil, cut into 100mm (4inch) squares, to collect the pollen-laden anthers

4. Place the anthers in the middle of the square of foil and leave them on a surface - in the house at normal room temperature - for 5 to 6 days

5. After 5 to 6 days make a parcel from the foil to enclose the anthers/pollen, label the parcel and send it to the person who requested the pollen or store in a domestic refrigerator for future use. It remains viable for several months, or years if frozen.


codes for pollen list:
Rob De Jeu   NL
Darm Crook  CAN
Adam Yakabuskie
Harris Howland  UK
Nuala Sterling   UK
Alan Mitchell   UK
Alisdair Aird   UK
Ray McNamara AUS
Craig Honiball  SA

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In Chinese, the word "lily" means "forever in love." These beautiful and fragrant flowers have been a symbol of purity for more than 3,000 years.