Birch pollen

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Birch pollen

Post by rjlittlefield »


Birch pollen in glycerin, brightfield, 40X NA 0.65 objective, Canon SD700 IS through eyepiece, manually stacked from 4 exposures.

This stuff is still confusing to me. It's hard to tell what the shapes are, and every grain seems different. One wrinkle (maybe all of them, pardon the pun!) is that these grains may be dehydrated, causing them to shrink in unpredictable ways. When I had some of them in water, they swelled up into what appeared to be fairly regular spheres with three little nipples.

I may have to wait til next spring to get more birch pollen. My trees are almost finished now.


Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Rik, with some of these pollens it is a challenge really get a good grasp on the shape. Some, like these birch you are showing us, do not seem to have a uniform distinctive shape. Makes it tricky to photograph as well. I think you have given us a pretty good idea of its appearance here.

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

Great shot Rik. :D I would not know but only guessing, I would think that those immersed in water would probably present a more accurate description of what they really looked like in the beginning. :-k

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Post by discomorphella »

Hi Rik--

Nice shots. To ensure consistent results with pollen, I typically wash a pollen sample with 100% isopropyl alcohol (some species have an oily or waxy covering and this degreases them), then wash and suspend in 50% glycerol for observation/storage. You don't really have to centrifuge the pollen samples, just suspend them in IPA, let them settle, preferably in a small conical bottom tube or test tube and remove the supernatant liquid with a dropper and add the next solution. This has given good results with a large variety of common pollen types.


1) collect and suspend in 100% 2-propanol (Isopropyl alcohol)
2) settle, remove IPA
3) resuspend in DI water, settle, remove water
4) resuspend in 50% glycerol

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

Hey thanks David, I will have to keep that in mind. Maybe if I can scrape up some more pine pollen I may just give that a try. Thanks again! :D

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