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My techniques for the harvesting of Heliamphora pollen.

Harvesting of Heliamphora pollen is one of those things that was very simple once I learned how.
Much of the issue came in not knowing when to harvest.


When the flower first opens, the anthers are lower than the stigma and perpendicular to the pistil (see image).

As the flower matures the anthers start to move down and become almost parallel to the pistil (see diagram).
Their color will also turn from green to a nice yellow, this is the time to harvest the pollen.

Many times I will start trying to harvest even while the anther still has a hint of green at its base where it joins the filament.

In nature, the pollen is released in response to vibrations. This can be simulated using a tuning fork. The one I use is an inexpensive 512hz model commonly found on ebay for less than 10USD.

It is also easier if you trim away the petals of the flower; they will only get in the way.

Place a small mirror under the flower and as close as possible while still allowing access with the tuning fork.

Ring the turning fork and touch the anthers; if they're ready they will release their pollen in a small "poof" of a cloud.

This pollen will then fall down onto the mirror where it can be easily collected.

If no pollen is released, then it is usually due to improper timing or excessive humidity issues.

If the problem is humidity, a simple work around is simply to cut the flower and allow to dry overnight in a lower humidity environment.
The next day you should be able to harvest as normal.

If its a timing issue, you may either be too early or too late. Too early is OK, you simply repeat the process until you succeed. If you're too late, its game over for that flower.

Carefully watch for the anther transition from green to yellow. It is easy to miss this and wait too late.
Here is a graphic and video of mine that may help.


(Notice the position and coloration of the anthers)

Pollen harvesting Youtube video

Caveat: Under normal conditions, Heliamphora pollen has a short shelf life.
So use it as soon as possible.

I have stored Heliamphora pollen long term (in excess of one year) but this requires special protocols
(subject of a later thread).

For more information:

Please read Don Schnell's CPN article on pollinating flowers

Couple other growers I know that can be a valuable resource on the subject:

David Denton (BigBella), an old friend and well known grower of distinction who removes the anthers to harvest the pollen.
John Yates (snapperjohn52), a friend and well known Australian grower of distinction who uses the tuning fork method (IIRC).

Now experiment and find the method that works best for you :)

(Butch T.)
Thanks, Butch! This was very informative and now I finally can pollinate my plant when the Time is Right.
Pic, drawing, video, and CPN article reference, what more could one ask for in "gathering pollen" instructions! I don't have a proper setup to grow Heliamphora, but if I ever do I will have this presentation saved in my favorites. Great job!

I look forward to your instructions on storing the pollen. :-D
Great info! Thanks for sharing
Butch -- what a guy; what a guy. In the right light, it looks like you know what you're doin . . .
"that's what she said" hehehehehe

and with your mentoring was there ever any doubt old friend.... you were growing helis before helis were cool
ohhhh btw, I found a pamphlet from the State of Alaska on smoking fish, I must send you a copy :)
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Smoked fiiiiiiiiiiish . . .
Thanks for the info and links, Butch. I've enjoyed the beauty of Heliamphora flowers for many years,
but never attempted pollination. Maybe I'll give it a try...