Main content area

The pollination ecology of Pedicularis rex subsp. lipkyana and P. rex subsp. rex (Orobanchaceae) from Sichuan, southwestern China

Tang, Y., Xie, J.S., Sun, H.
Flora 2007 v.202 no.3 pp. 209-217
Pedicularis, plant reproduction, sexual reproduction, pollination, pollinators, Bombus, flowers, plant morphology, China
Pedicularis is one of few genera for which pollination ecology has been studied extensively. Although over half of the species of Pedicularis are found in the mountains of southwestern China, pollination ecology has been studied there on a few species only. The present paper reports pollination ecology of Pedicularis rex subsp. lipskyana and P. rex subsp. rex from Sichuan, southwestern China. The two subspecies are nectariferous, with sugar content 28% in P. rex lipskyana and 22% in P. rex, respectively. The flowers of the two subspecies are adapted to pollination by bumblebee workers. Bumblebees are the primary and effective pollinators although honeybees were also observed pollinating P. rex subsp. lipskyana at one studied population. Usually bumblebees entered the corolla tube from the right side in an upright or a nearly half-inverted position to imbibe nectar located at the base of the corolla tube. The stigma usually contacts the side region of the thorax and abdomen or occasionally directly contacted pollen loads, leading to pollination of flowers. Much less commonly, bumblebees foraged on flowers of P. rex subsp. rex in an inverted position for pollen, which pollinated flowers sternotribically. We suggest that pollination mechanism is closely associated with floral morphology. Some important differences were found from a previous study on P. rex in floral morphology and the primary pollination mechanism.