Orchid seeds are incredible. One orchid seed pod can have up to 2.6 million seeds in. This is a brilliant survival technique for the orchid, but such an advantage comes at a price. Each orchid seed must be invaded by a mycorrhizal fungas. The orchid seed then uses the fungas to give it the energy for germination.
In our lab – we use agar jelly as a replacement for the fungas, meaning we can have every single seed germinate, where as only 10 may germinate in the wild. More information on our techniques can be found in our media libraries.
While in Cape Town in 2007 we linked with a school in the area, but also with local growers. Lorna in particular has been brilliant at supplying seed of the leopard orchid Anselia africana. When she e-mailed me a couple of weeks ago and first told me that she had 9 mature pods I was very excited! Anselia africana is a very nice plant that is easy to sow and grows well in our lab.
I was also eager to find out just what 9 seed pods worth of seed looked like! We were all very impressed when the envelope was packed full of seed. This is such a brilliant example Darwin’s prediction that, if left to their own devices, and if every seed germinated – orchids would take over the world in three generations!
A big, big Thank-You to Lorna, and also to our other partners across the globe! We couldn’t do it without you!