Pollination and Measuring

Happy Tuesday, Flog readers!

Team Echinacea took the morning to work on personal projects, so I hitched a ride to my experimental site, Nice Island. There, I collected pollen and made notes about what my plants were up to. Since I’m examining each row of Echinacea florets under different pollen treatments, I am generally quite careful to note strange things. Today, I noticed one of my plants had styles that were wilted and discolored, another had a severely tilted receptacle, and another was turning crispy–Yikes! I talked to Stuart, and I will remove those from my experiment later this week. Bummer. 🙁

One of my experimental plants after I painted R5!

Fortunately, the ones that are becoming obviously unfit for my experiment are few and far between, and I’m finding more suitable candidates.

I spent most of my time this morning bagging capitula, pollinating styles, and painting bracts to denote rows. It’s a detailed-oriented task, no doubt, but it has required me to channel my inner artist to meticulously paint the small bracts. I really enjoy doing it too. I can put on some music, sing along, and paint at the tempo of the song. It’s great.

When I counted, pollinated, and painted all that I needed to for the day, I started back on my walk to the Hjelm House. To my surprise, Ruth met me at Nice Island, and I happily showed her what I was up to, and she asked some key questions about my project. She also showed me a magnifying visor I can wear while I do my crosses, and I think it will be very useful in the future, so I can be sure I am using enough pollen on each style.

One of my experimental plants with a pollinator exclusion bag.

When Ruth and I returned, I had about an hour before lunch to organize my data from the day. I’ve created a colorful spreadsheet to remind me of what color each row is painted and when each head needs to be pollinated. As I count shriveled styles in my steady pollination treatment and enter that data, my spreadsheet updates the percent of shriveled styles–a key metric for my experiment. I like how my experiment is shaping up!

When lunch came, I enjoyed my egg, hummus, and apple meal while the team talked about rating Echinacea and why Team Pallida isn’t quite the antihero to Team Angustifolia. Pleasant conversation, for sure. When lunch wrapped up, Ruth shared some tasty almond chocolate with all of us, and we marveled at the Romeo & Juliet excerpt on one chocolate’s wrapper and the Bubo bubo information on the other’s wrapper.

In our post-chocolate contentedness, Ruth talked to us about the Echinacea fitness experiment in p1, Gretel talked to us about the protocol for measuring that fitness. After our introduction to the experiment, we booted up (although some chose to tough it out in sandals), and headed out to p1. We measured for a couple hours, and by the time we wrapped up our field time for the day, we were nearly 2/3 done with that experiment’s measurement!

The team after an afternoon of measuring in p1

When the Andes crew returned to our summer home, we removed our ticks and battled mosquitoes. For dinner, I made artichoke and spinach stuffed shells and a salad from the lettuce in our weekly CSA. Yum yum!

Now, I’m going to try to plan out a pollination schedule, so I can try to go on the orchid trip Thursday.


Until next time,



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