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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Baby Boom in the Orchid Nursery

Orchid seedlings in one of our back up greenhouses

A big priority for us this year has been to pollinate some of the choicest orchids in our collection. We have two goals. The first is to generate more plants for installation in the Fuqua Orchid Center. The second, and more important, is to reinvigorate our collection by producing healthy young seedlings.
Sarah removes the anther cap from Anguloa clowesii
Selfing, or fertilizing a plant with its own pollen, is simple and can produce a reasonable percentage of vigorous orchid seedlings. But many rare orchids in collections today are highly inbred, the result of many generations of selfings. Some are the descendants of just a single plant collected in the wild decades ago, before CITIES restricted importation. Unfortunately, an inbred plant often grows poorly, a tendency that becomes more pronounced with age.
Removing the pollinarium from the anther cap

Any plant that is maintained in a collection for many years needs to be vegetatively propagated by cuttings or division at intervals in order to provide replacement material. But when inbreeding contributes to its decline, then performing an outcross (i.e., use genetically different parents to produce seed) can be the best way to obtain healthy offspring while preserving some of the original genes. Outcrossing introduces new genes into the next generation and means that more offspring will be vigorous.
Sarah pollinating Anguloa clowesii

Data-the date and parentage- is recorded on a label and on a form and then transferred to an Excel file

The label is attached to the orchid below the  ovary
In upcoming posts we will follow the development of some of our pods.


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