, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 39-50

Insect-induced wind pollination of the palm Chamaedorea pinnatifrons and pollination in the related Wendlandiella sp.

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In Peruvian Amazonia pollination ecology of two palms, Chamaedorea pinnatifrons (Jacq.) Oerst. and Wendlandiella sp. was studied from October 1988 to January 1990. Both palms are dioecious understory species that form locally dense populations.

In C. pinnatifrons both sexes flower synchronously during the dry season. Prior to anthesis, the pendulous male inflorescence is inhabited by numerous thrips (Thysanoptera) and Ptiliidae (Coleoptera). Staminate flowers open by a small basal slit between the petals. At anthesis pollen is shed and the movements of the insects inside the flowers trigger pollen release in small clouds. Thus, the powdery pollen becomes airborne and finally air currents act as a vector, carrying pollen to the inconspicuous female plants, which usually are not visited by insects. The term ‘insect induced wind pollination’ is suggested for this pollination mode.

Wendlandiella flowers during four months in the dry season. Male and female plants were not visited by insects. The dry condition of the pollen indicates that anemophily is the pollination mode in Wendlandiella. Fructification is rare but the plants show intense vegetative propagation.

The significance of anemophily in the tropical lowland rain forest is discussed.