2.2.1. Testing for wind pollination (anemophily)

This test will tell us the extent to which a flower species is wind pollinated (anemophilous). It can be exclusively anemophilous in which pollinators do not contribute to fruit- or seed-set or partially anemophilous in which case pollinators can be useful for optimizing yield, examples of which include coconut, canola, olive and castor bean.

  1. Choose a given number of flower buds/inflorescences prior to anthesis.
  2. Protect half of these buds/inflorescences with muslin bags (mesh large enough to allow pollen grains to pass through but not insects) and leave the other half unbagged as the control. Identify each treatment with weather-resistant tags. In the case of multiple flowers on an inflorescence, a swipe of acrylic paint on the pedicel works well for identifying the treatments. The bags should remain on the flowers/inflorescences while the stigmas are receptive and can be removed afterwards.
  3. To control for bag effects on wind transfer of pollen, include inside and outside bags a small sticky surface, such as a microscope slide covered in a thin coat of petroleum jelly, with which one can compare wind-borne pollen deposition in- and outside the bags. Care must be taken in interpreting results as muslin bags may reduce the level of wind pollination. Observations should be made of the wind direction and the location of the pollen source to determine if a better arrangement of plants might affect the level of wind pollination.
  4. A few days later, check whether fruit has developed from the bagged flowers/inflorescences. If not, one can conclude that wind plays little or no role in pollinating that species. In the case of fruit development, the proportion of fruit- or seed-set in relation to the control treatment will tell us the degree of wind dependence by that species.
  5. If hand-selfing, geitonogamy, and cross pollination treatments are also performed, one can assess for interactions of these with wind and determine optimum combinations with wind for maximizing fruit- or seed-set. To validate the cross pollination trials it is important to ensure that compatible polliniser varieties are flowering nearby.