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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2010 Nov;12(6):853-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2009.00298.x.

The structure and roles of sterile flowers in Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri (Adoxaceae).

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College of Horticulture and Plant Protection, Yangzhou University, Yangzhou, China.


The formation and ecological roles of sterile flowers in flowering plants are interesting issues in floral biology and evolution. Here, we investigated the morphological and anatomical characteristics of both fertile and sterile flowers of Viburnum macrocephalum f. keteleeri, a self-incompatible and insect-pollinated shrub, during different developmental stages of flowers. In addition, pollinator visitation rates and fruit set were determined in intact inflorescences and those with sterile flowers removed. The results indicate that sterile and fertile flowers were developmentally similar during early developmental stages, and that development of the flower types diverged about 15 days before flowering. In addition, pollinator visitation rates, number of pollen grains on stigmas and fruit set were significantly higher in inflorescences with sterile flowers than those without sterile flowers. The results suggest that sterile flowers of this species evolved from fertile flowers under long-term selective pressure, and play a crucial role in enhancing reproductive success through effectively attracting pollinators to the plant and thus enhancing fruit set.

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