JARS 49n3 - Pollen Bank

Pollen Bank
Ron Rabideau
Barre, Massachusetts

The ARS Pollen Bank has a new chairman now that the 1995 spring distribution is finished. Former Pollen Bank chairman, Marthaann Mayer, remained on board to handle the spring distribution, but contributions of pollen for the 1996 distribution should be sent to me: Ron Rabideau, Barre, MA.
I will be following the same procedure for accepting pollen that Marty has developed. For those of you not familiar with collecting and storing pollen, here is a reprint of her instructions from the Winter 1993 Journal:
1.  Collect pollen from healthy, well-grown plants, preferably on a dry day, from flowers that are just about to open. This will prevent contamination by foreign pollen brought in by insects. Take anthers only, not the whole stamen. It is important to dip forceps (tweezers) in 50 percent alcohol (vodkas, undiluted, may be substituted) to avoid contamination between varieties. Pollen should be placed in labeled gelatin capsules. Don't fill capsules more than half full.
2.  Pollen should be dried by placing the capsules in a closed jar containing a desiccant, such as calcium chloride or silica gel, covered by loose layer of cotton. The jar may be kept at room temperature for several hours, or overnight, until the pollen starts to dry and then transferred to the refrigerator. Never put damp pollen directly into the freezer as this may cause the pollen grains to burst and render them useless.
3.  When the pollen is thoroughly desiccated it should be stored in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator. Keep it in a sealed glass jar containing a desiccant. A layer of cotton or tissue should be placed between the desiccant and the capsules.
4. To use the pollen simply remove the jar from the freezer and allow the pollen to defrost at room temperature.
If you are collecting a large amount of pollen you may send it to me (dried) in paper envelopes. Do not use plastic envelopes. I will package and label it. Also, if you are sending several capsules of the same kind of pollen, you may place the unlabeled capsules in a labeled envelope and I will label the individual capsules. Please be sure that all such bulk pollen has been thoroughly dried before shipping. Do not send damp pollen. It rots in the mail and is not usable.
Use crush-proof containers, such as film canisters, when shipping pollen. Capsules placed in regular paper envelopes without solid protection are usually crushed by post office machinery. I would appreciate having all contributions sent to me as soon as the pollen has been dried. Please include a list of the pollen you are donating as this greatly facilitates in compiling the pollen list.
Each year the list of available pollen is automatically sent to all ARS members who have contributed pollen that year or to the previous year's list. All other ARS members may request a copy by sending me a stamped self-addressed business size (#10) envelope. Requests without SASE will not be honored.
Pollen distribution usually takes place in late winter through early spring and is completed by the end of May. Requests for lists or pollen that are received after that time are held until the next list becomes available.
If anyone has any suggestions about improving the Pollen Bank in any way, don't hesitate to write or phone me. Possibly we could put together a booklet of nuts and bolts information about collecting and storing pollen; most of the current information seems to be scattered about. For example: pros and cons of various desiccants; how long pollen will last; good ideas for organizing and storage containers. Possibly we might begin a round-robin of ideas regarding hybridizing goals and theorize about plants to use to achieve them. There are many of us making crosses out there, and considering how long it takes to see the results of our efforts, learning what others have already done by networking and sharing pollen would literally save many years of effort. Along that line of thought, please send me your pollen wish list to be included in next winter's Journal. As an added source of information, it would be interesting if you would also be willing to add why you are requesting particular pollen and why you think it would be useful for your goals.

Ron Rabideau has been hybridizing for nine years. He would like to create a deep yellow tree-type rhododendron with a red blotch in a truss shaped like 'Furnivall's Daughter' only twice as large with giant glossy, dark green, bullate, windproof leaves, densely foliaged, phytophthora resistant, mildew-proof, easy to grow, and hardy to at least -20°F. Oh, yes, fragrant too.