Seed and Protocorm Bank
The Australian Orchid Foundation maintains a seed and protocorm bank to promote and facilitate the propagation and conservation of orchid species.
Donations of dry seeds are requested from donors. The following list of important points should be kept in mind when producing or donating seeds:
- Out cross (pollinate with pollen from another plant where possible) to ensure that good germinable seed is produced. Many self-pollinations may not produce good seed.
- Post all seed donations in small rigid containers, not padded bags or envelopes. Modern mail-handling machinery kills or severely damages most orchid seeds.
- Please provide collection date on the seed, so that we can know how fresh the seed is, and build up information on how long orchid seed of various species remain viable.
- Please provide information on pollination method (was the plant naturally pollinated, selfed or out crossed), so that we can collect information on the success of self pollination of a range of genera.
Please support our efforts to conserve orchid species by pollinating your orchids and supplying excess seed or protocorms to the:
The Australian Orchid Foundation Seed & Protocorm Bank.
27 Miller Grove
Kew Vic 3101
Phone: 0431 342 208
HOW THE SEED AND PROTOCORM BANK WORKS
Seeds and protocorms are generously donated to the AOF Seed & Protocorm Bank by orchid enthusiasts eager to make a contribution to the conservation of orchid species. The seeds and protocorms are then made available to anyone interested for a minimum price.
SPECIES ORCHID SEED PRODUCTION AND COLLECTION
The following information is to aid orchid growers in pollinating orchid species and producing seed for distribution by the orchid species seed and protocorm bank, in an effort to make orchid species more widely available and better conserved in cultivation.
The main topics covered are:
- Selection of Parent Plants
- Capsule Formation and Care
- Seed Extraction and Drying
- Picking Ripe Capsules
- Seed Storage and Posting
We hope that the following information will assist and encourage growers to produce high quality seed of orchid species, so that these species can be widely distributed to ensure their conservation through cultivation.
SELECTION OF PARENT PLANTS
Your selection of parent plants for seed production will have the greatest impact on the quality of the seed and progeny produced; so take care in the following:
- Choosing plants which are good representatives of the species
- Choosing quality clones with the best flowers
- Choosing plants which are healthy
Orchids with viruses must not be used for producing orchid seed, as the viruses can be transferred to the seed and all subsequent seedlings grown from that seed. Typical symptoms of orchid viruses include:
- Colour break in the foliage (irregular patterns or spotting)
- Wrinkled or malformed foliage
- Striations or variegations in foliage
Do not use pollen from other people’s orchids to pollinate your flowers without checking their plants for virus symptoms, as transferring pollen from infected plants onto your parent plant will also transfer the virus, which will then infect and may eventually kill your plant.
There are several ways of crossing (pollinating) parents to produce seed, and they are listed below in ranked order of preference:
- Out crossing (two separate unrelated clones)
- Sibling Crosses (two related plants, i.e. parent and sibling, or two siblings)
In many cases orchids will not produce good seed from selfing. They may produce capsules but the capsules will be empty or the seeds will have no or few embryos. If you are going to pollinate flowers for seed production it is worth ringing around members of your local orchid society to find pollen from another clone to outcross it, as it is disappointing to produce a capsule, wait 12-18 months only to find the capsule is empty or the seed does not germinate.
The actual step of pollination of the orchid flower is simply transferring the male pollen to the female receptive surface (stigma). It does, however, take some investigation and study to determine where these male and female parts are located in the orchid flower, and the following are main types of arrangements of these parts:
Some pollen (e.g. Cymbidium) is hard, and is best if squashed or broken up before transfer, while other pollen is almost liquid (e.g. Cypripedium).
Transfer is best done with a clean toothpick or similar fine instrument. Flowers are best pollinated a few days after opening, by which time the pollen will be mature. Pollinate flowers in mild even weather, avoiding cold or hot conditions as these can reduce the success of pollinations.
CAPSULE FORMATION AND CARE
Generally the orchid capsule simply requires the same conditions as the parent plant, but do not move the parent plant to a new location as this change in conditions may cause the capsule to abort.
PICKING RIPE CAPSULES
The next step is to pick the capsule when the seed inside is ripe, but before the capsule splits. This is important as the seed is quickly infested with fungus when the capsule splits, and also most of the seed will quickly fall from the capsule. The following methods are useful in picking the capsule at the correct time:
- Careful observation. Most capsules change colour to yellowish before splitting and in some species the seed inside the capsule changes from cream to brown, and this is visible through the capsule wall.
- If several capsules are pollinated at the same time then as soon as the first splits the remainder can be picked.
- The capsule can be gently squeezed (from top to bottom) and if it splits then it must be picked. Green capsules will not easily split if squeezed.
Do not rely on seed ripening times as a guide, as the time it takes varies greatly, especially in your local conditions. If you are unsure how close the time is for the capsule to begin to split, try tying a clean empty tea bag over the capsule a few weeks before hand and examine it from day to day.
SEED EXTRACTION AND DRYING
The mature capsule should be placed in a paper envelope in room conditions (cool, dry) for a week or two until the capsule dries out.
Once the capsules are dry they should be squeezed, and tapped so that all the dry seed falls out of them, onto a sheet of paper. Capsule and old flower fragments should be carefully removed, as they contaminate the seed.
SEED STORAGE AND POSTING
The dried seed should be placed into a clean paper packet which has all the seams and corners carefully sealed with sticky tape (be sure not to expose the tape to the seed as the seed will stick and is impossible to remove).
Seeds should be posted to the seed bank as soon as possible, but if this is not possible they should be stored in the refrigerator. Seeds stored at room temperature loose viability rapidly. Do not store the seeds at high humidity as they may go mouldy; but do not store them with desiccants as these can dehydrate and kill seeds.
Send Seed Donations to:
The Australian Orchid Foundation
Seed and Protocorm Bank
Manager: Bryan Lawrence
27 Miller Grove
Kew Vic 3101 Australia
Phone 0431 342 208
Your Support Is Much Appreciated
SEED BANK LIST
SEED: $6.00 per vial (each vial is enough to sow one motherflask)
All prices quoted are in Australian dollars and include GST for Australian
orders only. Overseas orders will have GST deducted.
AUSTRALIAN TERRESTRIAL SEED
Caladenia carnea (white form)
Caladenia latifolia (pink form)
Caladenia latifolia (white form)
Pterostylis aff. revolutum
If you require specific Australian terrestrial seed, please inquire as we may be able to source it for you.
AUSTRALIAN EPIPHYTIC AND EXOTIC SEED
All epiphyte seed has now been viability tested.
Updated seed list July 2023
020 Acanthephippium mantinianum
021 Bulbophyllum picturatum
041 Cymbidium canaliculatum ‘Cooktown’
032 Cymbidium madidum
030 Cymbidium suave
019 Dendrobium falcorostrum
080 Dendrobium Nancy Fairfax
049 Dendrobium speciosum var. curvicaule
050 Dendrobium speciosum var. grandiflorum
051 Dendrobium speciosum Windemere x Piko
024 Epidendrum wrightii
025 Laelia anceps var. alba
029 Plectorrhiza tridentata (Orbost)
052 Sarcochilus falcatus ‘Red Lip’
036 Sudamerlycaste dyeriana (outcross)
You can check the seedbank list at anytime by visiting the AOF seedbank facebook page at:
PROTOCORM BANK LIST
PROTOCORMS: $8.00 PER FLASK
(are supplied in a 2cm x 7cm flask on a sterile medium and will have been grown on for at least seven days to ensure sterility. On receipt, they should be replated as soon as possible. Each flask contains approximately 10 protocorms).
Orders taken for Australia only: protocorms cannot be exported outside of Australia due to cost factors.
** Australian terrestrial protocorms need to be replated before they begin to form a dropper. This frequently occurs within a month of germination. Therefore we do not make list updates for Australian terrestrial protocorms.
If you wish to know the current availability of Australian terrestrial protocorms, please contact Bryan Lawrence at: