Collecting and Working with Orchid Seeds

David Remucal, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

While many seedbanks avoid working with orchids, more groups are taking them on, or collecting them for groups that are. Collecting rules and protocols are not different for orchids but there are enough complexities in their biology to intimidate collectors new to orchids. Orchid seeds are the smallest in the world, and individual capsules can have from hundreds to thousands to over a million seeds in them. Banking orchid seed is complicated by this small size, the difficulty in determining seed viability as well as the difficulty in germinating and growing seedlings of nearly all species. On top of this orchid seeds are likely not orthodox, or if they are they may not store very long in a bank. Given all of these issues, research on orchid seed banking and ex situ conservation techniques is vital. In this short video we will introduce collectors to the basics of orchid seed work, covering issues of collection timing, mechanics of collecting, and storage that may trip up those that haven’t worked with orchids before.