Reproductive biology of Monttea aphylla (Scrophulariaceae)

Tadey, M.

Australian Journal of Botany 59(8): 713-718


ISSN/ISBN: 0067-1924
DOI: 10.1071/bt10282
Accession: 070669049

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Monttea aphylla is an aphyllus shrub abundant in the Monte Desert, Argentina. This species presents particular floral syndromes including violet, tubular flowers with trichome elaiophores that produce oil. Oil flowers are associated with specialised bees with an oil-collecting apparatus. To better understand the reproductive biology of M. aphylla, the mating system, flowering phenology, the associated pollinator assemblage and foraging behaviour was determined at the southernmost part of its distributional range. Results were compared with those of previous studies and discussed. At this southern location M. aphylla is a self-incompatible species; it relies on pollinators for fruit production and presented a low fruit set. Flowering occurred during the spring, from October to December. M. aphylla was pollinated by three species of bees (Apidae); two generalist species (Centris brethesi and Mesonychium jenseni) and one specialist to M. aphylla (Centris vardyorum). M. jenseni is a cleptoparasite of Centris species. Centris species are oil-collecting bees and showed territorial behaviour (i.e. they always visited a restricted group of plants which they protected from other visitors), they visited several flowers/plants, which enhanced geitonogamous self-pollination and reduced pollination efficiency, and which might explain the low natural fruit set observed in M. aphylla. C. vardyorum was the most important pollinator of M. aphylla in the study area. The reproductive biology of M. aphylla differs along its distributional range. Apparently, southern populations of M. aphylla are more specialised than the northern populations, the former being pollinated by a few related pollinator species whereas at the northern location a variety of visitors were observed.