Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 222, Issue 1, pp 271–279

Deceptive orchids with Meliponini as pollinators

  • D. W. Roubik

DOI: 10.1007/BF00984106

Cite this article as:
Roubik, D.W. Pl Syst Evol (2000) 222: 271. doi:10.1007/BF00984106


Visitation of orchids by Meliponini (stingless bees) is confirmed only in 13Melipona, Partamona andTrigona, forXylobium andMaxillaria, with the addition ofTrigona fulviventris visitingIonopsis. Some bees evinced multiple floral visitation by carrying several stipes and viscidia from pollinaria, thus may cause seed set. None foraged pseudopollen, nor is collection of this substance by bees verified. Meliponine-visited orchids had pollinia in quartets with emplacement on the bee's scutellum, possibly devices for pollinia survival on a social bee passing through its nest. Further, orchids produced no nectar, but bees repeatedly came to flowers. A testable basis for the orchid-meliponine relationship is mimicry of rewarding resources, or bee pheromone mimicry, recently documented for some honey bees. Meliponine pheromone analogs (nerol and 2-heptanol) are here noted forMaxillaria, but lack of foraging with pheromones byMelipona suggests multiple avenues of mimicry by orchids, including alarm pheromone and carrion mimicry.

Key words

Neotropical orchids Meliponini mimicry pollination 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. W. Roubik
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaPanama
  2. 2.Panama and Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, DCUSA

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