, Volume 101, Issue 1, pp 68–74 | Cite as

An exception to Darwin's syndrome: floral position, protogyny, and insect visitation in Besseya bullii (Scrophulariaceae)

  • Mark J. McKone
  • Rebecca Ostertag
  • Jason T. Rauscher
  • David A. Heiser
  • F. Leland Russell
Original Paper


Darwin pointed out that plants with vertical inflorescences are likely to be outcrossed if the inflorescence is acropetalous (flowers from the bottom up), the flowers are protandrous (pollen is dispersed before stigmas are receptive), and pollinators move upward on the inflorescence. This syndrome is common in species pollinated by bees and flies, and very few exceptions are known. We investigated flowering phenology and pollinator behavior in Besseya bullii (Scrophulariaceae) and found that it did not fit Darwin's syndrome. The vertical inflorescence was acropetalous but the flowers were distinctly protogynous, so flowers with newly receptive stigmas appeared on the inflorescence above those with dehiscing anthers. A number of small insects visited B. bullii; bees in the family Halictidae (Augochlorella striata and Dialictus spp.) were most common. When insects moved between gender phases within inflorescences, they moved up more often than down (61% versus 39% of observations, respectively) but this difference was only marginally significant. Most visits were to male-phase flowers only, and this preference was more pronounced for pollen-foraging insects than for nectar-foraging insects. B. bullii was self-compatible, so its flowering characteristics potentially could result in considerable self-pollination. However, an average of 38% of the lowermost flowers opened before any pollen was available on the same inflorescence; these “solo females” had a high probability of outcrossing (though fruit set was relatively low in the bottom portion of the inflorescence). Upper flowers may also be outcrossed because downward insect movement was not uncommon. Therefore protogyny in B. bullii may not necessarily lead to more selfing than would protandry.

Key words

Besseya bullii Pollination Protogyny Halictidae Foraging behavior 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark J. McKone
    • 1
  • Rebecca Ostertag
    • 1
  • Jason T. Rauscher
    • 1
  • David A. Heiser
    • 1
  • F. Leland Russell
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyCarleton CollegeNorthfieldUSA

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