by Leif L. Richardson and Rebecca E. Irwin
|A bumble bee worker collects nectar and pollen from a turtlehead flower.|
The majority of flowering plants engage in pollination mutualisms with animals in order to sexually reproduce, exchanging food rewards such as nectar and pollen for the service of pollen transfer between flowers. However, many animals that feed at flowers do not pollinate, and are thus better thought of as antagonists rather than mutualists. Outcomes of these interactions among plants and animals are strongly dependent on abundance and diversity of flower visitors, as well as timing and quality of reward presentation. Despite the importance of plants to structure and function of ecosystems, the pollination ecology of many flowering plants is poorly known.In this study we investigated the mating system, floral visitors and pollen limitation of turtlehead (Chelone glabra L.), an eastern North America wetland herb. We found that the plant reproduces sexually by both self-pollination and outcrossing, but requires pollinator visitation to set seed.