The Aesthetically Pleasant Pollen Grain

By: H. Wayne Shew, Ph.D.
NAB Certified Pollen Counter
Alabama Allergy & Asthma Center Collection Station—Birmingham, Alabama

If you have read some of my past blogs, or if you are somewhat knowledgeable of plants and how they function, then you are aware of the essential role that pollen plays in the transport of the male gamete (sperm nucleus) to the female gamete (egg nucleus). The pollen which is produced in the anthers is moved in some way to the stigma (the process of pollination). Ultimately, one of the two sperm nuclei that are formed in the pollen tube effects formation of the zygote by fusing with the egg nucleus, and the other sperm nucleus effects formation of the primary endosperm nucleus by fusing with the fusion nucleus; all of this taking place inside of the ovule in flowering plants. In addition to serving as the vehicle for transport of the male gametes from the anthers (androecium) to the carpel or pistil (gynoecium), pollen can unfortunately also trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. I’ll address this topic of allergic reactions in a limited way in a later blog. I want to use this blog as a chance to consider pollen for its intrinsic beauty and great diversity. Unless you have had the opportunity to see pollen grains under a microscope at a magnification of 400-600X, you are probably not aware of the beauty of pollen, its aesthetic appeal, the fact that it is a true work of art.

Many of the pictures below are included in this blog because they are some of my favorite types of pollen. Some are included to show the great diversity of types of pollen grains produced by plants. Pollen truly can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. (Of course, if you are allergic to certain types of pollen, I guess it is just viewed as irritating to the eye.) I will talk more about pollen anatomy on another day, but for now just enjoy the pictures, a part of nature’s art, part of God’s creation.

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Black Walnut


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Red Cedar


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Timothy Grass


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Fragrant Honeysuckle


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Horse Chestnut


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Oregon Grape