I realize that I might be a little late in the season to talk about spring, seeing how the season is coming to an end as I am currently sweating it out in the Maryland heat. I just recently moved from Penn State to Maryland to do some work with the USDA for the summer—and let me tell you, it is hot! It’s about a ten degree temperature change between the two locations, and with the humidity factored in it is surely going to take some getting used to.
Not only does this late May heat wave have me reminiscing about fresh spring days, but also does the thought of the beautiful scenery
around the Penn State campus in the springtime. One of my favorite visions walking to class was marveling at the loveliness of the pink cherry blossoms blooming on many of the trees on campus. One day, a coworker suggested I take a pollen sample from a cherry blossom tree as an addition to my newly forming pollen reference collection. After I tried inconspicuously (I am not sure how well that worked, as I got some strange stares) to pick a blossom from the tree I took it back to the lab and was able to gather enough pollen to make a slide.
Below are three images of Cherry blossom pollen I collected:
On the Penn State University Park campus there are seven species of Cherry Blossom trees. I have to be honest in my admission that I am not fully sure of the variety I picked. I would have to go back to the exact tree I picked the blossom from to find out that information. Seeing as how I am no longer at Penn State this isn’t really possible. Therefore, because pollen of the Rosaceae (Rose) family, especially those within the same genus, is very similar to one another, I can only narrow down the pollen to family and genus, but not species. The correct way of labeling the pollen would be Rosaceae, Prunus and then followed by the species name.
As I was looking at the pollen under the scope, I couldn’t help but think how awesome it was that I had just picked the first pant to start my very own pollen reference collection. Mental note: one plant sample down and identified, millions to collect. OK, yes, I do realize that makes me sound like a huge nerd. I don’t know many who go around looking at plants and taking blossoms not for a nice floral display, but rather to identify the pollen. Really cool, I know. “Hey guys! C’mon let’s go out and collect plant samples so we can spend hours under a microscope and identify the plants!!! Any takers…?” Surprise, surprise, looks like this girl is a pollen nerd all on her own. Oh well, looks like I will continue to get strange stares like, “who’s that chick running around all excited grabbing things off the plants? Weirdo…”