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Pinguicula pollination

Here is link to a rough sketch to show how the Pinguicula flower is designed. If pollen is produced, it is generally released between the top of the ovary and the underside of the stigma flap (often yellow filaments produced by the corolla are mistaken for pollen). For me the easiest way to effect the capture of pollen and transfer it to the desired upper stigma surface is with a wooden toothpick, flat or round. I color the tip of the toothpick black with an indelible marker pen, then it is easiest to see anything on the toothpick tip that is lighter than "black". To capture pollen with a toothpick, I first gently remove most or all of the corolla. While gently holding the stalk below the flower I insert the toothpick under the stigma flap, between the ovary and the stigma flap. If there is any quantity of released pollen often some will be captured by the toothpick. I then gently touch the toothpick with captured pollen on its tip against the upper surface of the receiving stigma, optimally near its center. You can see my hand drawn diagram here:


The red spot in the center of the stigma indicates the position of the style (the connection of the stigma to the ovary).
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When I took pics of my Utric blooms a month or so ago, I also had my wife help me snap a pic of the internal flower parts of a U. nelumbifolia bloom (which I then forgot I had). Prior to the blooms opening, I searched all the forums for explanations & pics. While I did find a number of them, the pics were usually too small to see the details or the 'stylized' version still confused me. Combining Joseph's explanation (up above) of what to do, with his 'stylized' drawing & the following pic (showing all the parts he references) - helped me to understand how to pollinate (with some friend's hints too!).

Here's the pic:
I still keep trying to hand-pollinate the Mexican ping flowers... and still can't get them to produce seeds. I think I need someone to be right with me and show me. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. You wouldn't know it but I successfully hand-pollinated Petiolaris plants.
I still keep trying to hand-pollinate the Mexican ping flowers... and still can't get them to produce seeds. I think I need someone to be right with me and show me. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. You wouldn't know it but I successfully hand-pollinated Petiolaris plants.

Sometimes it could be the plant genetic. Many hybrids or selfing offspring might have lower fertility.
This is especially for jimscott. In a recent post I read of his continued difficulties and I thought that perhaps a very careful description of the process might help.

The ovary is like a little bead that sits on top of the flower stalk, it becomes visible if you carefully tear-off the corolla (petals), as long as you don't damage any other part of the flower. Attached to the top of the ovary is the style, and attached to the top of the style is the stigma, as a bifurcated flap, usually with a smaller segment of the flap rising above the lower flap, which is larger. The upper side of this flap is the stigma surface (it is the only place where you can place pollen that can produce fertilization). One critical point is to be extremely careful not to put any unnecessary stress on the upper stigma surface or its very fragile and tenuous connection to the style. The filaments of the two stamen are attached at the base of the ovary, on the side that is usually closer to the ground, when the flower is in its usual position at anthesis. These filaments sweep up and forward, so they position the anthers directly beneath the stigma flap and on top of the ovary. The filaments are shaped similar to some animal horns. The anthers, if the conditions are right, will mature and release pollen at anthesis. Usually, if pollen is released from the anthers, it will be viable (though not always). Sometimes the anthers may need to be carefully detached from the flower and the pollen dissected from the anthers before it can be used. Some clones/species rarely, if ever, produce any pollen, or any viable pollen. Some rarely release their pollen in a normal manner.

**** The first time I succeeded in producing viable seed of Mexican Pinguicula, was with the cultivar - Pinguicula 'Sethos'. I first propagated a dozen or more of the cultivar, grew them to flowering size, and began attempting to self-pollinate (self-fertilize) the flowers produced. Most often the flowers produced no pollen. Sometimes a fertilization produced an empty ovary. Sometimes it would produce seed that would not germinate. Sometimes seed that were non-viable (obvious because the testa would be empty). After pollinating dozens of flowers, over two or three years, finally the seed from one of my pollinations, germinated. I was in shock. Most of the seedlings grew quickly to a mature, flowering size. Segregation was obvious in this F2 generation.

Here is a pic of some of these seedlings in a community tray -->



My technique:
I use flat style, wooden toothpicks that I have darkened the flat ends of by marking them heavily with a black indelible marker (and then let them dry thoroughly). I grasp the upper part of the corolla and carefully tear off the lower portion of the corolla, including the spur. While still holding the upper corolla, I use the toothpick to carefully lift the stigma flap to view the anthers and see if their is any pollen that has been released there. If there is, I very carefully pick some up on the end of the darkened toothpick. If this is the flower I want to self-pollinate, I simply deposit the pollen very gently onto the upper stigma surface, near where the stigma attaches to the style. It is extremely easy to critically damage the stigma and style during this process. If they are damaged, fertilization will not happen. If you are making a hybrid, you simply need to modify your technique, so you use two different toothpicks, using one toothpick for each pollen donor, and making sure to only place the pollen of the donor plants onto the upper stigma surface of the potential mother plants.
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Thanks, Joseph! I need a third hand... one to hold the magnifying glass so I can see what I'm doing!

---------- Post added at 09:15 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:11 AM ----------

I just went to pull the bottom set of petals and all 5 just came off together.
Be careful when the entire corolla detaches in one piece, the stamen, I believe are attached to the corolla, and may detach with it. Of course, pollen may still be recoverable.

I did obtain a magnifying lens that has its own stand, which is adjustable and has two alligator clip arms that are also articulated. I rarely use it, but my purpose in getting it was to use it if it ever became necessary.

They were designed for detailed craft work, such as jewelry making/fine electrical circuit assembly/repair.
LOL! You have so much better equipment than I! I've got to re-study plant parts again. There are 5 petals - 3 & 2. Is it the 2 that I need to rmove?
Thanks, Joseph! I need a third hand... one to hold the magnifying glass so I can see what I'm doing!

Google "handsfree magnifier" or "head magnifier" or "magnifying headset". Prices range from $5-$200. A heck of a lot more if you get surgical ones. You get what you pay for but the $5 are usable. Check cash and carry office/stationary/hardware/tools stores local to you like maybe Harbor Freight Tools:


Indespensible especially with the makule kine eyes I got at over 50.
LOL! You have so much better equipment than I! I've got to re-study plant parts again. There are 5 petals - 3 & 2. Is it the 2 that I need to rmove?

It's called being a human, "pack-rat". It has it pros and cons.

The usual Pinguicula flower doesn't actally have separate petals, they are all fused into a single corolla. The Pinguicula corolla has five lobes, two on top, pointing right and left, two just below that one, each pointing in opposite directions, and one that points down. You could carefully remove all but the uppermost two corolla lobes (petals). Doing that still leaves these two lobes as a "handle" to steady the flower while it is manipulated in pollination attempts.

54 year old eyes here. I don't need magnification help when pollinating Ping flowers, but I wear the strongest reading glasses I can get, over my usual corrective lens glasses when I am grafting honey bee larva for queen rearing.
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One of my goals or Christmas is to obtain a 40W growlite for the terrariun setup, so I can least provide something more worthy for the Petiolaris Complex and others that are tropical in nature.

I'll have to a bit for the next flower to open up. i'm at least a week away with P. gigantea x moctezumae.
When you look into the "throat" of the flower, from the front, above the fuzzy part, that looks like colored hairs, is the upper surface of the stigma. The upper surface is the one that is receptive to pollen (when it is ready, pollen will adhere there and grow down through the pistil and into the ovary where the ova can then be fertilized and develop into seeds).

Here is a photo showing this hairy appendage (or beard) and the stigma above and behind it --> the pollen, anthers and stamen are behind/beneath this stigma flap.


If you tear off the corolla lobe containing the beard, the spur, attached behind the beard will also be torn away. This will also expose everything necessary to easily complete the mission of pollinating or self-pollinating the flower.

Very good advice by Joseph Clemens! Thanks!!!
Took some photos today while pollinating a P. Sumidero 1 flower so thought id post them.

Flower before being torn apart:

After the bottom 3 petals were torn off to expose the stigma flap (the top dark blue/purple part is where you put the pollen, and the pollen is located below this flap):

Stigma flap lifted to reveal the pollen on the antlers (pollen has already been removed):

Pollen deposited on the outside of the stigma flap (compare to photo 1 to see the slight color difference):
Here is a couple photos one week after pollinating. As you can see the seed pod is already starting to grow and become visible.


And about 4 weeks after pollinating, pod will open any day now and when it does you have to be quick before they fall out