OSSSU - Orchid Seed Science And Sustainable Use

Orchids are perhaps the most iconic group of plants in the world, forming one of the two largest plant families with extensive horticultural, medicinal and culinary uses. With over 26,000 species they are found on every continent other than Antarctica, and display highly individualistic mechanisms of pollination. As more of their habitats and wild populations are threatened by changes in land usage, over collection and climate change, the need for effective ex situ conservation strategies to be developed and communicated internationally has become increasingly urgent.

OSSSU function and Objectives

Welcome to the Orchid Seed Science and Sustainable Use (OSSSU) website.

This website has been created to encourage the engagement of people around the world in the conservation of orchids through the preservation of their seeds and pollen in support of ex situ strategies. This builds upon the success of an earlier international project (‘Orchid Seed Stores for Sustainable Use’), supported by the Darwin Initiative and funded by the UK Department for Environment and Rural Affairs. The sixteen partners involved in this project were based in Asia and Central and South America and stored over 300 mainly tropical species, and developed germination protocols for many. The new network involves other groups in Asia and the Americas, as well as partners in Europe and Africa. This website will continue the work and communication of the original partners, and encourage new groups to join the network to benefit from existing knowledge, and also to share their own expertise. This will promote intellectual exchange, collaborative opportunities, and the possibility of sharing germplasm.

The success of the original OSSSU project, and reports that the seeds of numerous orchid species, and some pollen, can be dried and successively stored at low temperature, points the way to the use of orchid germplasm banks as a complementary strategy to habitat preservation, although there remains much to be learnt about their biology. The name change of the network to ‘Orchid Seed Science and Sustainable Use’ reflects this and highlights the need to understand in more depth processes involved in successful seed and pollen conservation. Progress is required if the practice of orchid seed and pollen banking is to be more universally applied and with greater confidence, and also reflects the need to understand the techniques of artificial pollination, and the role and use of symbiotic fungi. Practitioners of orchid conservation cover a diverse group of people not only involved in basic and applied science, but also in education and the promotion of conservation needs to the general public.

The contents of this website will provide a global resource with relevant, up to date, and accessible information from and to a broad range of partners.

The website contains both open and password protected areas for those who have joined the network. Please explore links on the home page to delve into orchid seed conservation around the world; catch up on new techniques and protocols; what species are being conserved; read the latest news and information about meetings; and explore the wonderful photo gallery of orchid flowers.