COVID-19 update: All of New Zealand is now at Red. More information.

Massey University Palynology Laboratory

palynology-lab.jpg Palynology (the science of pollen) is an inter-disciplinary science that brings together aspects of geography, earth science, plant biology and ecology.  Massey operates a world-class palynology laboratory.

Because each plant species produces a distinctive type of pollen, pollen grains contained within ancient sediments, airborne dust, and even the honey you have on your toast for breakfast can be traced back to the plants that produced it.

Our Expertise

Quaternary pollen analysis

By extracting ancient pollen preserved in sediments we can reconstruct past vegetation composition and detect how it was changed by natural and anthropogenic impacts.

Pollen processing and extraction from sediments

We provide processing and extraction services from a range of sample types including sediments, honey, and plant and animal samples. Please contact us to discuss your requirements. We can also provide pollen identification, counting and pollen concentration services.

Automated palynology systems

Massey palynologists are leading the way in developing automated palynology systems. A joint project between staff of the School of Engineering and Technology and the School of Agriculture and Environment has resulted in the first holistic automated pollen imaging and classification system, the Classifynder.

Learn more about the Classifynder

Airborne pollen sampling and analysis

Analysis of airborne pollen grains indicates which plants are flowering and provides the basis for pollen forecasts for hay fever and allergy sufferers. The Burkard airborne pollen sampler is used for daily pollen monitoring and assessing the impact of climate change on flowering times.

Floral analysis of honey

Pollen content of honey is used to determine its floral origins. This is important in New Zealand, where there are restrictions on honey imports, and where some honeys command a premium price.   

Learn more about the pollen image database we are compiling for New Zealand and Pacific pollen types.



Kat Holt


Revolutionising pollen analysis

Pollen analysis requires countless hours looking down a microscope, identifying and tallying pollen types. This is a major limiting factor in pollen-analysis efficiency. But a solution has arrived in the form of the Classifynder, a system combining robotics, image processing and neural network technology for automated counting and classification of pollen grains.

The Classifynder is a joint project between Massey’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology led by Emeritus Professor Bob Hodgson, and the School of Agriculture and Environment, led by Emeritus Professor John Flenley. Palynologist Dr Kat Holt is testing the system’s performance.

The Classifynder is the first of its kind and prototype machines are in use around the world. The CSIRO is using it to identify how insects and invertebrates function as pollinators. In biosecurity it can identify the countries of origin of many products, notably honey. For allergy sufferers, it can provide air-borne pollen counts and source species. The Classifynder has the potential to revolutionise palynology by providing faster, more consistent, repeatable pollen counts.

We perform commercial honey pollen analysis, as well as measurement of colour (mm Pfund), conductivity, and sugar content (Brix).

For further information, please contact Kat Holt.

Massey University honey sample submisison form.pdf (250 KB)