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Flowering biology of Aspidistra (Asparagaceae): new data on pollination by dipteran insects

Vislobokov, Nikolay A.
Plant species biology 2017 v.32 no.4 pp. 412-422
Amphipoda, Aspidistra, Collembola, Diptera, flowering, fly pollination, fungus gnats, heat production, herbaceous plants, monitoring, odors, phenology, pollinators, scanning electron microscopy, slugs
The genus Aspidistra comprises about 160 species of herbaceous plants. In previous investigations, different authors suggested that Aspidistra is pollinated by flies, fungus gnats, slugs, amphipods and even collembolans. The vast majority of data was based on only one species, A. elatior, and was not confirmed by direct observations. Recent field observations of anthetic plants confirm the idea of pollination by flies for two other species of the genus. The present study summarizes direct observations of flowering phenology and pollination of five previously unstudied species of Aspidistra. Flowering biology was studied using visual observations as well as video and photo monitoring. Flowers and captured pollinators were investigated using scanning electron microscopy. As a result, knowledge of the flowering biology of Aspidistra has been increased. The absence of heat production and an ultraviolet pattern were verified. The present data show that flowers of Aspidistra can serve as a food resource for animals. The investigated species of Aspidistra are pollinated by dipteran insects: A. formosa, A. marasmioides and A. subrotata are pollinated by fungus gnats; A. multiflora and A. oviflora are pollinated by flies. The occurrence of fungus‐gnat pollination was directly demonstrated for the first time in the genus Aspidistra. The present study confirmed the idea of myiophily in the genus Aspidistra. Apparently, myiophily is common and diverse in Aspidistra. More likely, pollinators are attracted by scent, which is undetectable by humans, but the attraction mechanism is still not completely clear.