Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 238, Issue 1, pp 7-21

First online:

Nectar biodiversity: a short review

  • E. PaciniAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences “G. Sarfatti”, Siena, Italy
  • , M. NepiAffiliated withDepartment of Environmental Sciences “G. Sarfatti”, Siena, Italy
  • , J. L. VespriniAffiliated withFaculty of Agricultural Sciences, Zavalla, Argentina

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 Nectaries differ in many aspects but a common feature is some kind of advantage for the plant conferred by foraging of consumers which may defend the plant from predators in the case of extrafloral nectaries, or be agents of pollination in the case of floral nectaries. This minireview is concerned mainly with floral nectaries and examines the following characteristics: position in flower; nectary structure; origin of carbohydrates, aminoacids and proteins; manner of exposure of nectar; site of nectar presentation; volume and production of nectar in time; sexual expression of flower and nectary morphology; nectar composition and floral sexual expression; variability of nectar composition; fate of nectar; energy cost of nectar production. The species of certain large families, such as Brassicaceae, Lamiaceae and Asteraceae, resemble each other in nectary organisation; other families, such as Cucurbitaceae and Ranunculaceae, have various types of organisation. A scheme is presented to illustrate factors influencing nectary and nectar biodiversity.

Key words: Floral nectaries, nectar, secretion, carbohydrates.