Plant Evolutionary Ecology Lab

List of materials for Pollination Workshop


For a group of approx. 30 students:

15 x compound microscopes

2 sets of laminated station labels (1-5)

2 sets of pre-prepared pollen grain slides using 5 different species of pollen (for example, dandelion, Fuchsia, ivy, bellflower, peruvian lily)

10 x dichotomous identification keys, designed for the 5 species above (see our example), but can be ajusted to your local species

15 x watchmaker forceps

20 x glass slides (plus 5 extra)

20 x cover slips

15 large petri dishes

10 small petri dishes containing approx. 15 small squares of fuchsine-stained glycerine jelly (see below for recipe)

15 x lighters (including some hob lighters for students who are uncomfortable using lighters)

A bouquet of flowers (suggested: Alstroemeria or Lisianthus)

2 x containers for used glass slides


Goggles – if not already in school laboratories or workshop room


Recipe for glycerin jelly:

The jelly is composed of a mix of commercial gelatine and glycerin, providing a safe mounting medium to visualise pollen grains under the microscope. You also add a small amount of basic fuchsine, a dye that stains the outer walls of the pollen grains and helps with visibility under the microscope.

You can use powdered gelatin from the supermarket, that often comes in smalle envelopes. You can adjust the quantities below, taken from Kearns & Inouye’s 1993 book “Techniques for Pollination Biologists”.

water – 175 ml     

glycerin – 150 ml                          

gelatin – 50 g    

basic fuschine – 2g or as desired

In a beaker, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and heat until dissolved. Add the glycerin and continue warming gently until well mixed. Add the dye away from the heat and stir very slowly to avoid air bubbles. Small bubbles might develop and if so, leave the beaker in warm water until the bubbles disappear. Pour into one or more petri dishes to set.