Orchid Review 4(37): 41-43 (Jan 1896)

IT is currently believed that Orchid pollen retains its vitality for a long time after removal from the flower, but few actual experiments seem to be on record.

With Laelias and Cattleyas I have had four pods of good seed from pollen removed from the flowers two weeks and more previously—namely, L. Perrinii x C. labiata, plus L.-c. elegans alba, 14 days; C. Gaskelliana x intermedia, 17 days; C. Percivaliana x velutina, 18 days; L. purpurata x C. intermedia, 30 days; L. grandis x C. intermedia, 33 days. At the same time I have failed in thirty trials with pollen 15 to 30 days old ; in twenty-seven trials at 30 to 60 days; and fourteen trials 60 to 160 days.

Will not some of our expert hybridists give as many instances as possible of good pods from pollen used three weeks or more after removal from the flower, and let us know if any particular condition—as to dryness, darkness, and ventilation, or the reverse—seem to be of importance in keeping the pollen alive. I have generally used paper packets, in a small tin box, and found no advantage in enclosing the pollen in nearly air-tight gelatine capsules till ready to use it.


I note a great difference in the time required to ripen seed-pods, according to the species of pollen made use of. It seems to tend towards a mean between the normal ripening time of the two parents, as shown in the examples given below.

I cannot give the average time for each species with its own pollen, not having experimented in this line sufficiently. The average given is that of all my own crosses, and hence is apt to be too high for the quick-ripening kinds and too low for the slow ones; but it will illustrate the point made. Only good pods have been considered—those containing at least some thousands of plump seeds.

The seed parent is given in the left-hand column, and the pollen parent in the middle, each being followed by the average period of ripening of uncrossed capsules (where this is known), stated in months. The right-hand column shows the actual period of ripening of the hybridised capsules, in some cases three examples being recorded:—

C. Trianae 11 1/2 m. C. amethystoglossa 4 1/2 m. 81 m.
" " " " labiata 12 1/2 m. 13 1/4 m.
" " " " Lueddemanniana ? 14 1/2 m.
" " " " luteola 9 m. 9 3/4, 10, 10 1/2 m.
" " " " Percivaliana 13 m. 15 m.
" " " " Schroederae 14 m. 14 m.
" " " " Walkeriana ? 11 1/2 m.
" " " L. anceps 5 1/4 m. 7 1/2, 9 1/4, 9 1/2 m.
" " " " Dayana ? 14 m.
" Percivaliana 13 m. " harpophylla + flava 7 1/4 m. 13 1/2 m.
" " " C. luteola  9 m. 16 m.
" " " " Trianae 11 1/2 m. 14 1/2, 15 1/2, 17 m.
" " " " velutina  ? 9 3/4 m.
" " " L. anceps 5 1/4 m. 9 1/4 m.

The soonest maturing pods, so far, have been of Bletia verecunda x Schomburgkia tibicinis, 7 1/2 weeks, and the same x L. purpurata, 6 weeks. The former seed began to germinate in considerable numbers, but was then lost; of the latter, I have one odd-looking plant—a tiny bulb growing out of the top of another of equal size—the lower one bearing root-fibres and the upper one a minute leaf. The seed was planted six months ago.

Oviedo, Florida, U.S.A.,
January 13th, 1896.

[These remarks are very interesting, and we hope others will be induced to send us their experiences. What is the real meaning of the variation in the periods of ripening between crossed and uncrossed capsules seems at present doubtful, and we only see three cases in which the period of ripeness of the latter is fairly midway between that of the two parents. These are C. Trianae crossed with amethystoglossa, with luteola, and with L. anceps; and C. Percivaliana X L. anceps. In five others the period is longer than that of either parent—in some considerably so—from which it is evident that further observations are necessary. The four cases in which the period of maturing of the pollen parent is unknown cannot be cited either way. Further experiments might explain away some of these apparent discrepancies. The seedling Bletia verecunda X Laelia purpurata we shall hope to hear of again. We would suggest that a number of flowers of some common species should be crossed with different things at the same time, and the results recorded. We should be glad if Mr. Mead will kindly explain the phrases "L. Perrinii x C. labiata plus L-c. elegans alba" and "C. Trianae x L. harpophylla + flava," which we fail to understand.—ED.]

Orchid Review 4(40): 112 (Apr 1896)

THE following are results from a large number of observations, and may be interesting in connection with Mr. Mead's notes at page 41. Unless seedlings have been obtained, it is not right to assume that the seed was either good or ripe, and the results given here are all taken from cases in which the seed produced healthy plants:—

Calanthes—4 to 5 months (dozens of examples).
Cattleyas and Laelias—never less that 11 months and up to 16 months (dozens of examples).
Cypripediums—from 7 to 13 months, but in most cases 10 to 11 (hundreds of examples).
Selenipediums—in all cases a much shorter time than Cypripediums (scores of examples).
Dendrobes—from 9 to 17 months, in a usual way 14 to 15 (many scores of examples).
Masdevallias—4 to 7 months (probably 1 1/2 dozen of examples).
Odontoglossums—12 to 17 months (two cases only in which plants have been raised).
Phajus—6 to 9 months (several examples).

From careful observation I am strongly of opinion that the period necessary to produce fertile seed depends on the period usual with the seed-bearing parent, and that the pollen parent has little to do with the period necessary for the seed to ripen.

Oakwood, Wylam-on-Tyne.

Orchid Review 4(42): 169-171 (June 1896)

MR. COOKSON'S notes on the time of ripening seed at page 112 of the April number are valuable, especially since his experience differs from mine in a number of points. The time required here is doubtless shortened by the intense sunlight, this latitude being the same as that of central Egypt, and for at least half the year the sun is so powerful that it is impossible to handle metal objects lying in full sunlight without gloves, their temperature rising to about 160° F., even when the shade temperature near by is quite comfortable. As to the warning that seeds are not to be counted good unless they produce plants, I have rarely found seeds that look really plump and well-developed under the microscope to fail to pass through the earlier stages of germination, increasing in size five or six-fold and developing plenty of chlorophyll, which would certainly show them to be alive. The exceptions have almost all been seeds with one parent ranked as "cool." These swell up, but fail to take on a lively green colour, and after some months usually die without further growth.

I have raised healthy plants from half-a-dozen Laelia and Cattleya crosses which were but seven and eight months in ripening seed, and in one case, C. amethystoglossa crossed with L. flava and L. harpophylla (on the same flower), the pod ripened in 4 3/4 months, and within six weeks of planting the seed I had one plant with a leaf three-eighths of an inch long, besides innumerable smaller plants just ready to push the leaf. On the other hand some crosses have lingered as long in the seed-pod as any recorded in England.

The Editor's suggestion that several flowers on the same plant should be crossed at the same time with different pollen, and the time recorded, has already been carried into effect, with the following results:—In October, 1894, I had three flowers on the same spike of Cattleya Warscewiczii, and crossed one with pollen of C. velutina; another with L. Perrinii, C. Bowringiana, C. Dormaniana, and C. superba together; and the third with C. Trianae and C. Percivaliana. The first pod opened at 10 months, the second at eleven, and the third has just opened at 17 3/4 months. The pods all contained an abundance of viable seeds, many of which are still alive, and those of the second are quite promising in appearance. In November, 1894, with four flowers on the same plant of C. Trianae virginalis, I crossed one with L. anceps alba, ripe in 9 1/2 months; one with C. Walkeriana, ripe in 11 1/2 months; one with C. labiata, ripe in 13 1/4; and one with L. crispilabia, not yet ripe at 17 months; all of which seems to indicate a decided influence on the part of the pollen parent.

To simplify the matter of records I use circular tags—cut from letter paper by a gun-wad punch—each attached to the pedicel of the hybridized flower by a loop of thread, and bearing the names, in pencil, of both parents and the date. In the note book the completed record would read as in the following example:—

May 15. C. Mossiae x L. grandis (3/4-5 da.) 1. !
Ripe March 10, 1896, 10 months.

The amount of pollen used is given by the fraction in the parentheses (the quantity yielded by one flower being taken as unity), the "5 da." indicates that the pollen had been kept five days before using, and the "1" outside the parentheses, that only one flower was thus crossed. Whenever the pod dies instead of ripening, the tag is removed, and if any considerable time has elapsed since pollination, the date of death is entered on its back, and at any convenient time thereafter this date is entered in the note book, a naught (0) takes the place of the exclamation point at the end of line, and the tag is destroyed. In a rough way the time that elapses before the death of the pod gives a hint as to the amount of affinity between the species crossed, though single cases will often be misleading. My note book already contains over 1,500 entries of attempted crosses made during the last three years, and 230 apparently good pods have been gathered so far.

When the pod ripens it is cut off and put in a paper bag about four by seven inches, name of cross and dates entered at the top, and dates and manner of planting entered below. These bags, when empty, are filed in alphabetical order, according to name of female parent, like library catalogue cards, and the further progress of the seedlings noted on them as may seem desirable, so that the whole history of every pod is on file and may be referred to at any moment.

My rule is to make all the crosses possible with my material, that is, all in which there is a reasonable chance of getting good seed, without regard to the fact that many crosses would probably be worthless from a commercial or even horticultural point of view. I have made also a good many of what Charles Darwin used to call "fool's experiments," as to different materials on which to grow the seeds, and it may surprise some growers to hear how very regardless of precedent some of my Cattleya hybrids have been, since I have raised them successfully to the leaf and root stage not only on fibrous peat and wood and earthenware, but an occasional plant has grown on corduroy and Canton flannel and linen towelling, on bibulous paper, and even on woollen fabrics. I grew more than a hundred fine little plants of C. intermedia x Harrisoniana to the leaf stage on a small piece of woollen bed blanket, happening to get the conditions of moisture, &c., just right for them. On these fabrics growth is usually much slower than under more natural conditions, but they escape many enemies, both insects and moulds, that find congenial quarters in fibrous peat and other composts, and destroy the great majority of seeds while still in the thalloid stage.

In my former notes in the February issue the sentence above the tabulations (at page 42) is printed so as to contradict the preceding correct statement, that the given average time of ripening seed is that of all my crosses on the given species—not the normal time for uncrossed pods, which statement should be cancelled. The sign "+" is equivalent to "and," indicating that more than one kind of pollen was used on the same flower.

Oviedo, Florida, U.S.A., May 4th, 1896.

[The mistake alluded to in the last paragraph arose through a little alteration made by us in the arrangement of the tabulated part and the preceding explanatory paragraph. The fact is the number of months following the parents indicated represents the average time of ripening of all crosses on those species, and the table therefore represents the amount of variability in the periods of ripening under varying circumstances, and is not adduced in support of the remark that the time of ripening of any crossed capsule seemed to tend towards a mean between the normal ripening time of the two parents, as we supposed. Some experiments with uncrossed capsules would be very interesting, and possibly throw light on this question. The cases now adduced are remarkable, and we should particularly like to know the result of the multiple crosses mentioned when they flower. We shall recur to the question. Meantime, we hope others will send us their experiences.—ED.]

Orchid Review 4(46): 318 (Oct 1896)

MR. HANSON has written me respecting my crosses between the genera Selenipedium and Cypripedium for his Supplement, so, thinking it may be of some interest to your readers and lovers of these favourite flowers, I send you briefly a copy of what I said I had .written in one of your issues, that I had plants up between S. Schlimii (seed parent) and C. Spicerianum (pollen parent). These are growing away well, and now have two or three pairs of leaves. Also the reverse cross was tried, but the seed pod of this latter was not ripe when plants of the former were up; and even when sown, did not grow. But I think I have established a "record time" in the following cross, made between S. x Dominianum as seed parent and C. Chamberlainianum as pollen parent. This was hybridised in December, 1895; the pod was ripe in March of this year; the seed was sown immediately, and now, in September, nine months after hybridising, I have strong young plants, some with leaves 4 1/2 inches long, and of a Selenipedium character. The reverse cross of this also did not germinate. Whether the cross between these two genera will ever be got to flower remains to be seen.

Corndean Hall,

CybeRose note:

Selenipedium Schlimii = Phragmipedium schlimii
Cypripedium Chamberlainianum = Paphiopedilum chamberlainianum
Cypripedium Spicerianum = Paphiopedilum spicerianum