, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 178-184

The pollination biology of Calypso bulbosa var. Americana (Orchidaceae): Initial deception of bumblebee visitors

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Summary

The orchid Calypso bulbosa var. americana has deceptive flowers that provide no rewards for visitors. Near Banff, Alberta, the flowering period of this species is synchronized with the emergence of its pollinators, large bumblebee queens, in late spring. Calypso flowers appear to rely on the initial attraction and deception of newly-emerged naive bumblebees for pollination. Indirect evidence suggests that individual bees subsequently learn to avoid these flowers and that avoidance is learned quite rapidly. Avoidance behavior by pollinators is obviously detrimental to sexual reproduction in Calypso. This negative effect appears to be offset by the large number of seeds produced in plants which are effectively pollinated. A test of the hypothesis that Calypso flowers mimic flowers of the shooting star, Dodecatheon radicatum (Primulaceae) failed to provide evidence for mimicry.