Pollination biology and flower visitors of the gynodioecious species Lobelia spicata Lam. (Campanulaceae)

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The pollination biology and flower visitors of Lobelia spicata, an herbaceous prairie perennial, were examined, and this species was found to be xenogamous, self-compatible, and gynodioecious. Hermaphroditic individuals are protandrous, produce nectar, and have secondary pollen presentation (i.e., pump mechanism). Female individuals do not produce nectar. No significant differences were found between the fruit set of open-pollinated hermaphroditic and female flowers. In hermaphroditic bagged flowers seeds were produced (i.e., undeveloped fruits) suggesting self-pollination; however, this was determined to be the result of geitonogamous pollination by thrips. Autogamy is not likely in this species because there is no overlap between the staminate and pistillate phases. This species is pollinated mainly by bees from the genus Augochlorella. Overall, this study shows that L. spicata shares many common characteristics with other species of Lobelia (i.e., L. cardinalis and L. siphilitica) such as protandry, self-compatibility, no autonomous self-pollination, similar flower phenology (i.e., pistillate and staminate phases), and secondary pollen presentation (i.e., pump mechanism). In contrast to these other species, L. spicata blooms early, has smaller flowers, and attracts smaller pollinators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-193
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Torrey Botanical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Bees
  • Flower visitors
  • Gynodieocy
  • Lobelia spicata
  • Pollinators
  • Prairies
  • Pump mechanism
  • Secondary pollen presentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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