Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Faithful Bee but orchid "Pre-ejaculates"

Expand Messages
  • Peter Bernhardt
    Dear Jack: Here s a recently published paper that takes an odd twist to the story of the flower waiting for the faithful bee. The orchid self-pollinates in
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 29, 2012

    Dear Jack:

    Here's a recently published paper that takes an odd twist to the story of the flower "waiting" for the faithful bee.  The orchid self-pollinates in the bud stage (not too unusual) but then it opens its flowers and is visited by Apis cerana.  The bee is useless as a pollinator as the orchid has already pollinated itself.  Once the pollinium is on the stigma it can't be re-affixed to the bee.

    The situation is probably not unique to this orchid species.  Dr. Meier and I have been continuing my older interest in Thelymitra in Australia.  It's a vernal-flowering genus. Small-flowered species in this genus often self-pollinate in the mature bud but then open rather pretty petals on hot spring days.  Nevertheless, recurrent hybrids have been recorded between several self-pollinating species and between self-pollinating and cross-pollinated (large-flowered) species.  Observations by earlier naturalists noted visitation by syrphid flies that consume stigmatic fluids and l"nibble" the crumbling pollinia on the stigma.  Hybrids then are supposed to occur when a fly visits an open self-pollinated flower transfrring a few grains to the "virgin stigma" of a second species with open flowers.   We found that syrphids certainly do carry Thelymitra pollen on their mouth parts although we never found a fly carrying the whole pollinarium (viscidium, caudicles and pollinia pairs) of a large-flowered or small-flowered species to date.  

    Peter  
    -

Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.