05 March, 2018

Pollen transfer efficiency of Apocynum cannabinum (Apocynaceae)

by Tatyana Livshultz, Sonja Hochleitner, Elizabeth Lakata

Two groups of plants: orchids (Orchidaceae) and milkweeds (Apocynaceae) have evolved extreme floral forms that turn their clumsy animal partners into pollen-delivering virtuosos: pollen transfer efficiency of these flowers averages about 25%, a 1 in 4 chance of successful delivery rather than 1 in 100. How do orchids and milkweeds achieve such extreme efficiency?   

The flowers of dogbane don’t look too unusual, but they command extraordinary performances from their pollinators, achieving unusually efficient pollen transfer. Photo: Tatyana Livshultz

Most flowers disperse their pollen as thousands or millions of microscopic grains. In contrast, individual orchid and milkweed pollen grains are packaged into a few much larger pollinia that are firmly attached to visiting animals by specialized structures called “translators”, reducing the likelihood of loss in transit.

Read the whole summary in: English!
Read the scientific publication in JPE.

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