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pollinia, pollinium; pollinaria, pollinarium

Scoliidae with pollinia - Scolia nobilitata - male Syrphid Fly with Milkweed Pollinaria - Merodon equestris Psara obscuralis with orchid pollinaria attached to its eyes - Psara obscuralis Ctenoplusia oxygramma with orchid pollinaria - Ctenoplusia oxygramma Soldier beetle with a milkweed pollinium on each foot - Cantharis rufa Crioscolia nectaring in milkweed 'hoods' - Crioscolia alcione - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
No Taxon (Glossary)
No Taxon (P)
No Taxon pollinia, pollinium; pollinaria, pollinarium
pollinia (plural), pollinium (singular) a single, cohesive mass of pollen...typically contained in a waxy sac or other discrete compact unit.
pollinaria (plural), pollinarium (singular) a composite item consisting of two or more pollinia, together with accessory structures joining them and facilitating the pollination process (e.g. translator arms & corpusculum in milkweeds; or caudicles & viscidium in orchids).
Milkweed pollinarium Milkweed pollinaria image             Various examples of orchid pollinaria (see 3rd page here)   Orchid pollinaria

Pollinia and pollinaria are distinctive structures of the anthers (male parts of flowers) found in members of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae) and the Dogbane family (Apocynaceae...which now includes milkweeds of the former Asclepiadaceae). They often become attached to insects that visit flowers of these families, and are a critical part of the complex and fascinating pollination process for members of Orchidaceae and Apocynaceae.
See Also
Some immature mites might look similar.
Print References
Singer, R. B., Gravendeel, B., Cross, H., & Ramírez S. R. (2008). The use of orchid pollinia or pollinaria for taxonomic identification. Selbyana 29(1): 6-19. (Full Text)
Peter, C. I & S. D. Johnson (2006). Doing the twist: a test of Darwin's cross-pollination hypothesis for pollinarium reconfiguration. Biol. Lett. 2(1): 65–68. (Full Text)
Johnson, S. D. & T. J. Edwards (2000). The structure and function of orchid pollinaria. Plant Systematics and Evolution, 222:243-269 (Initial 2 pages)
Bookman, S.S. (1981). The floral morphology of Asclepias speciosa (Asclepiadaceae) in relation to pollination and a clarification in terminology for the genus. American Journal of Botany 68:675-6 (1st page from JSTOR)
Newton, L. E. (1984). Terminology of structures associated with pollinia of the Asclepiadaceae. Taxon 33(4): 619-621.
Swarupanandan, K., Mangaly, J. K., Sonny, T. K., Kishorekumar, K., Shand Basha, S. (1996). The subfamilial and tribal classification of the family Asclepiadaceae. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 120:327-369. (Full Text)
Internet References
Insects Carrying Milkweed Pollinia: A compilation of pollin(ar)ia images from BugGuide, put together by BG editor Mike Quinn.
Milkweed Pollination Biology: A well-written and nicely color-illustrated USDA technical note. Clear and informative.
The story of an organism: Common Milkweed. A wonderfully detailed and in-depth exploration of the entire life cycle of a colony of Asclepias syriaca in upstate New York. Nicely illustrated and elegantly written as a scientific study presented in the form of an intimate journal of discovery.
Definitions & images of pollinia, pollinarium, caudicle, massula, and viscidium from the Orchids of New Guinea web site.
Glossary (pp. 2-3) and figures (pg. 4) for Orchidaceae with definitions of Pollinium, Pollinarium, Caudicle, Massula, Viscidium (and much more)...from the Flora of China web site.