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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2008 Mar;10(2):220-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2007.00020.x.

Pollination of Cypripedium plectrochilum (Orchidaceae) by Lasioglossum spp. (Halictidae): the roles of generalist attractants versus restrictive floral architecture.

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School of Life Sciences and Engineering, Southwest University of Science and Technology, Mianyang, Sichuan, China.


The pollination of Cypripedium plectrochilum Franch. was studied in the Huanglong Nature Reserve, Sichuan, China. Although large bees (Bombus, Apis), small bees (Ceratina, Lasioglossum), ants (Formica sp.), true flies (Diptera) and a butterfly were all found to visit the flowers, only small bees, including three Lasioglossum spp. (L. viridiclaucum, L. sichuanense and L. sp.; Halictidae) and one Ceratina sp., carried the flower's pollen and contacted the receptive stigma. Measurements of floral architecture showed that interior floral dimensions best fit the exterior dimensions of Lasioglossum spp., leading to the consistent deposition and stigmatic reception of dorsally-placed, pollen smears. The floral fragrance was dominated by one ketone, 3-methyl-Decen-2-one. The conversion rate of flowers into capsules in open (insect) pollinated flowers at the site was more than 38%. We conclude that, while pigmentation patterns and floral fragrance attracted a wide variety of insect foragers, canalization of interior floral dimensions ultimately determined the spectrum of potential pollinators in this generalist, food-mimic flower. A review of the literature showed that the specialised mode of pollination-by-deceit in C. plectrochilum, limiting pollinators to a narrow and closely related guild of 'dupes' is typical for other members of this genus.

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