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An Examination of the Function of Male Flowers in an Andromonoecious Shrub Capparis spinosa

Zhang, Tao, Tan, Dun-Yan
Journal of integrative plant biology 2009 v.51 no.3 pp. 316-324
Capparis spinosa, Xylocopa, anthers, females, male flowers, males, morphs, nectar, plant ovary, pollen, pollination, pollinators, seeds, shrubs, stigma, sugars
The pollen donor and pollinator attractor hypotheses are explanations for the functions of the male flowers of andromonoecious plants. We tested these two hypotheses in the andromonoecious shrub Capparis spinosa L. (Capparaceae) and confirmed that pollen production and cumulative volume and sugar concentration of nectar do not differ between male and perfect flowers. However, male flowers produced larger anthers, larger pollen grains and smaller ovaries than perfect flowers. Observations on pollinators indicated that two major pollinators (Xylocopa valga Gerst and Proxylocopa sinensis Wu) did not discriminate between flower morphs and that they transferred pollen grains a similar distance. However, there were more seeds per fruit following hand pollination with pollen from male flowers than from perfect flowers. Individuals of C. spinosa with a larger floral display (i.e. bearing more flowers) received more pollen grains on the stigma of perfect flowers. Female reproductive success probably is not limited by pollen. These results indicate that male flowers of C. spinosa save resources for female function and that they primarily serve to attract pollinators as pollen donors.