WSBEorchids

9 Million Seeds!

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!

Quite a large pile of orchid seed!

A big, big Thank-You to Lorna, and also to our other partners across the globe! We couldn’t do it without you!

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Snow School Today!

Yay! School is closed which means a day off, playing in the snow… or does it?

The greenhouse in snow.
The greenhouse in snow.

Unlike students, plants don’t like having a ‘snow day’ and as a result – plant people have to be in looking after them!  This, of course, doesn’t mean that there’s no playing in the snow.

First we must check the greenhouse!  This is particularly fun as it involves trudging 11.5cm (4.5″) of snow.  The greenhouse it’self has escaped seriouse temperature drop as it has a thick blanket of snow covering it.

P1069009 P1069010 P1069016

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Repotting time – Splitting Odontoglossum cristatum

Spring is the best time of year to repot and split orchids and at Writhlington spring starts early. One plant that needed drastic attention was this old plant of Odontoglossum cristatum. A lovely cool growing species from Colombia. It has been growing on the same piece of cork bark for about seven years and it is now in need of splitting up and repotting for a fresh start.

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Happy New Year to all our partners around the World

Fambong Lho
Fambong Lho

New year is a time we think about all the lovely people we work with around the world. So Happy New Year to our friends in Durban both at the Botanic Garden and at West Park School. Happy New Year as well  to the pupils and staff at the Erica Primary School in Cape Town, to Souk and Eddie in Laos, to John, Ian and Judy in Belize, to Ana-Silvia and Federico in Guatemala, to Federico, Vannessa, Franco, Kerry and Bob in Costa Rica, to Izabel, David and Carlhinos in Brazil and all our friends in Sikkim, especially Mohan and Ganden who are second and fifth from the left in this lovely photo from our 2009 expedition to Sikkim. This is the log house at the Fambong Lho reserve in the mountains above Gangtok. Finally a Happy New year to all of you who read our blogs on the RHS. We hope to see you all sometime in 2010

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