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Pollen Storage


Pollen of most plants in the Amaryllis Family, the Amaryllidaceae, can be stored for extended periods of time and still retain useful viability.

Storage should be done in a tightly closed container. I prefer using 1.5 mL microcentrifuge tubes of polyethylene or polypropylene (Eppendorf tubes). Two or three anthers are removed from their "stems" (filaments) (see Anatomy of a Flower). Place the anthers in a microcentrifuge tube, and leave open at the top.

Dry the anthers. In very dry climates, such as deserts and semi-deserts, drying in air will probably suffice. In humid climates, such as the Northeastern U.S.A., it is better to place the microcentrifuge tube with its anthers in a larger container with some drying agent such as Blue Silica Gel Crystals, for 12 to 24 hours. When dry, cap the microcentrifuge tube tightly. Label the tube with the botanical name and the date. Store the tube in a home freezer.

The length of time that a sample of pollen can be stored will depend on several factors:

The genus and species of the plant.
Clivia pollen is said to retain viability for many years
Crinum pollen appears to retain viability for several years
Nerine pollen appears to retain viability for several years
Haemanthus pollen keeps for about 12 months
Hippeastrum ("amaryllis") pollen stays viable for up to 12 months.
Hymenocallis pollen retains viability for only a few months
Daylily (Hemerocallis, not an amaryllid) pollen stays viable for many years
The extent to which the pollen was dried before storage.
Clivia pollen is quite dry at the time of ripening
Most pollens require drying in air or over a drying agent for 12 to 48 hours before storage.
Blue Silica Gel crystals are a good drying agent, but Drierite® is better.
The temperature at which it is stored.
For immediate use, a few hours later, room temperature storage is quite satisfactory
Short term storage (days or weeks) in a refrigerator at ca. 39°F (4°C) is satisfactory
Long term storage (months or years) must be done at subfreezing temperatures; the colder, the better

Best of luck with your pollen!

Jim Shields


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Last revised: 06 February 2010
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