Spectral polymorphisms in angiosperm flowers determined by differential ultraviolet reflectance

  • Frederick H. Utech
  • Shoichi Kawano


The ultraviolet reflectance pattern of flowers from 54 species representing 22 families, many native or introduced to Japan, were surveyed. Their differential ultraviolet patterns, i.e. spectral polymorphisms, were recorded by paired photographs of fresh flowers: one taken in full sunlight and the other through a visible spectrum absorbing filter. The different types of polymorphisms observed varied from total absorption by the whole flower to limited absorption by selected floral parts, such as corolla bases (nectar guides) or anthers. Some visible spectrum polymorphisms, e.g. inAnemone andHepatica, were not associated with different ultraviolet patterns. In three species ofIris, a distinct ultraviolet absorbing landing spot and nectar, tunnel guide as well as reflecting anthers are reported. The downward exerted anthers ofSolanum nigrum which shed pollen through bee wing vibration were ultraviolet absorbent.

The implications of these ultraviolet patterns for biochemical (flavonoid), taxonomic, pollination and eco-evolutionary research are discussed. Attention is drawn to the seasonal distribution of ultraviolet radiation in the northern hemisphere and its selective role on northern floras.


Floral Part Liriodendron Tulipifera Floral Color Nectar Guide Landing Spot 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Autrum, H. 1960. Vergleichende Physiologie des Farbensehens. Fortschr. Zool.12: 176–205.Google Scholar
  2. —. 1965. The physiological basis of colour vision in honeybees.In: A.V.S. de Reuk and J. Knight, eds, CIBA Foundation Symposium. Colour vision Physiology and Experimental Psychology. pp. 286–300. J. and A. Churchill Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  3. Burkhardt, D. 1965. Color discrimination in insects.In: J.E. Beament, J.E. Treherne and v. Wigglesworth, eds, Advances in Insect Physiology2: 131–173.Google Scholar
  4. Cruden, R.W. 1972. Pollination biology ofNemophila menziesii (Hydrophyllacease) with comments on the evolution of oligolectic bees. Evolution26: 373–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cutchis, P. 1974. Stratospheric ozone depletion and solar ultraviolet radiation on earth. Science184: 13–19.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Daumer, K. 1956. Reizmetrische Untersuchungen des Farbensehens der Bienen. Z. vergl. Physiol.38: 413–478.Google Scholar
  7. —. 1958. Blumenfarben, wie sie die Bienen sehen. Z. vergl. Physiol.41: 49–110.Google Scholar
  8. Dethier, V.G. 1963. The Physiology of Insect Senses. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Dütsch, H.U. 1969. Climate of the free atmosphere.In: D.R. Rex, ed., World Survey of Climatology4: 383–432. Elsevier, Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  10. Eisner, T., R.E. Silberglied, D. Aneshansley, J.E. Carrel andH.C. Howland. 1969. Ultraviolet video-viewing: the television camera as an insect eye. Science166: 1172–1174.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. —. 1973. Plant taxonomy: Ultraviolet patterns of flowers visible as fluorescent patterns in pressed herbarium specimens. Science179: 486–487.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Faegri, K. andL. van der Pijl. 1971. The Principles of Pollination Ecology. Second edition, Pergamon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  13. Frisch, K. von. 1960. Über den Farbensinn der Insekten.In: Mechanisms of Colour Discrimination. pp. 19–40. Pergamon Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Goldsmith, T.H. 1961. Color vision in insects.In: W.D. McElroy and G. Glass, eds, Light and Life. pp. 771–794. Johns Hopkins Press Baltimore.Google Scholar
  15. Grant, V. 1950. The flower constancy of bees. Bot. Rev.16: 379–398.Google Scholar
  16. Heinrich, B. andP.H. Raven. 1972. Energetics and pollination ecology. Science176: 597–602.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Hobbs, P.V., H. Harrison andE. Robinson. 1974. Atmospheric effects of pollutants. Science183: 909–915.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Horovitz, A. andY. Cohen. 1972. Ultraviolet reflectance characteristics of flowers of crucifers. Amer. J. Bot.59: 706–713.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hultén, E. 1937. Outline of the history of artic and boreal biota during the Quarternary period. Their evolution during and after the Glacial period as indicated by the equiformal progressive area of present plant species. (Doct. Diss., Univ. Lund) Stockholm.Google Scholar
  20. Hultén, E. 1958. The amphi-Atlantic plants and their phytogeographical connection. Kgl. Sv. Ventensk.-Acad. Handl. Ser. 4, Vol. 7, no. 1.Google Scholar
  21. Hultén, E. 1962. The circumpolar plants. I. Vascular Cryptogams, Conifers, Monocotyledons. Kgl. Sv. Ventensk.-Acad. Handl. Ser. 4, Vol. 8, no. 5.Google Scholar
  22. —. 1968. Flora of Alaska and Neighboring Territories. Stanford University Press, Stanford.Google Scholar
  23. Kevan, P.G. 1972. Floral colors in the hight arctic with reference to insect-flower relations and pollination. Can. J. Bot.50: 2289–2316.Google Scholar
  24. Kitamura, S., G. Murata andH. Masaru. 1971. Coloured Illustrations of Herbaceous Plants of Japan (Sympetalae). Reviese edition, Hoikusha Publishing Co., Osaka (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  25. —. 1971. Coloured Illustrations of Herbaceous Plants of Japan (Choripetalae). Hoikusha Publishing Co., Osaka (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  26. — andT. Koyama. 1971. Coloured Illustrations of Herbaceous Plants of Japan (Monocotypledoneae). Hoikusha Publishing Co., Osaka (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  27. Kodak Data Book B-3. 1972. Kodak Filters for Scientific and Technical Use. p. 65. Revised edition, Eastman Kodak Co., Rochester.Google Scholar
  28. Koller, L. 1952. Ultraviolet Radiation. Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  29. Knuth, P. 1909. Handbook of Flower Pollination. Vol. 3. (translated by Ainsworth, J.) Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  30. Kugler, H. 1947. Hummeln und die UV-Reflexion and Krönblättern. Naturwissenschaften34: 315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. —. 1963. UV-Musterung auf Blüten und ihr Zustandekommen. Planta (Berlin)59: 296–329.Google Scholar
  32. Leppik, E. 1956. The form and function of numeral patterns in flowers. Amer. J. Bot.43; 445–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. —. 1968a. Morphogenic classification of flower types. Phytomorph.18: 451–466.Google Scholar
  34. —. 1968b. Directional trends of floral evolution. Acta Biotheoretica18: 87–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Levin, D.A. 1969. The effect of corolla colour and outline on interspecific pollen flow inPhlox. Evolution23: 444–455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. London, J. andJ. Kelley. 1974. Global trends in total atmospheric ozone. Science184: 987–989.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Lotmar, R. 1933. Neue Untersuchungen über den Farbensinn der Bienen, mit besonderen Berucksichtingung des Ultravioletts. Z. vergl. Physiol.19: 673–723.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lutz, R.E. 1924. Apparently non-selective characters and combinations of characters, including a study of ultraviolet in relation to the flower-visiting habits of insects. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci.29: 181–283.Google Scholar
  39. Mazokhin-Porshnyakov, G.A. 1964. Methods for the study of insect color vision. Entomol. Obozr.43: 503–523.Google Scholar
  40. —. 1965. Insects and light. Priroda6: 58–62.Google Scholar
  41. —. 1969. Insect Vision. (translated by Masironi, R. & L.) Goldsmith, T.H. ed., Plenum Press, New York.Google Scholar
  42. Meeuse, B.J.D. 1961. The Story of Pollination. Ronald Press, New York.Google Scholar
  43. Ohwi, J. 1972. Flora of Japan. Shibundo, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  44. Ornduff, R. andT. Mosquin. 1970. Variation in the spectral qualities of flowers in theNymphoides indica complex and its possible adaptive significance. Can. J. Bot.48: 603–605.Google Scholar
  45. Pijl, L. van der. 1960. Ecological aspects of flower evolution. I. Phyletic evolution. Evolution14: 403–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. — 1961. Ecological aspects of flower evolution. II. Zoophilous flower classes. Evolution15: 44–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. —. 1966. Orchid Flowers. Their Pollination and Evolution. University Miami Press, Coral Gables.Google Scholar
  48. Richtmyer, F.K. 1923. The reflection of ultraviolet by flowers. J. Opt. Soc. Amer.7: 151–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Rolls, P. 1968. Photographic optics.In: C.E. Engel ed., Photography for the Scientist. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  50. Ruderman, M.A. 1974. Possible consequences of nearby supernova explosions for atmospheric ozone and terrestrial life. Science184: 1079–1081.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Soderstrom, T.R. andC.E. Caldéron. 1971. Insect pollination in tropical rain forest grasses. Biotropica3: 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Thien, L.B. 1971. Orchids viewed with ultraviolet light Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull.10: 877–880.Google Scholar
  53. Thomas, I. andH. Autrum. 1965. Die Empfindlichkeit der dunkel- und hell-adaptierten Biene (Apis mellifica) für spektrale Farben: Zum Purkinje-Phänomen der Insekten. Z. vergl. Physiol.51: 204–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Thompson, W.R., J. Meinwald, D. Aneshansley andT. Eisner. 1972. Flavonols: Pigments responsbile for ultraviolet absorption in nectar guide of flower. Science177: 528–530.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Tikhomirov, B.A. 1959. Relationships of the animal world and the plant cover of the tundra. (translated from Russian by Issakoff, E. and T.W. Barry) Fuller, W.A. ed., Boreal Inst., University of Alberta, Edmonton.Google Scholar
  56. Urbach, F. (ed.) 1969. The Biologic Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation. Pergamon Press, New York.Google Scholar
  57. Valley, S.L. (ed). 1965. Handbook of Geophysics and Space Environments. Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories, Cambridge, Mass. pp. 6–4 and 6-5.Google Scholar
  58. Weevers, T. 1952. Flower colours and their frequency. Acta Bot. Neerl.1: 81–92.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frederick H. Utech
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shoichi Kawano
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyToyama UniversityToyama

Personalised recommendations