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Pollination ecology of epipactis palustris orchidaceae

Pollination ecology of epipactis palustris orchidaceae

Botaniska Notiser 131(3): 355-368

Observations on the pollination of E. palustris (L.) Crantz, mainly from the island of Oland, southern Sweden, are reported. A broad spectrum of insects feeding on the nectar was recorded. Ants, bumble-bees and hover-flies were the most frequent visitors, but generally played a minor role as pollinators. Solitary wasps (Hymenoptera, Eumenidae) were the most important pollen vectors, although only present at low frequencies. Ants were important pollinators in 1 locality. Entomogamy prevails and the frequency of visits is much lower if the plant is growing in association with entomophilous competitors. Deposition and frequency of pollinaria, morphology and action of the hinged labellum, and the time of flowering all suggest that E. palustris is adapted to pollination by solitary wasps, perhaps primarily to males of the genus Eumenes Latr. The hinge seems to be an adaptation to the peculiar form of the 1st abdominal segment of these wasps. The structure of the labellum obliges the wasps to perform an involuntary balance-act which obviously results in efficient contact between head and column. No support was found for Darwin's theory that the distal part of labellum actively throws the insect against the rostellum. Honey-bees seldom acted as pollen vectors and do not fit the flowers morphologically.

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