Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 133, Issue 1–2, pp 29–37 | Cite as

The pollination spectrum in the southwestern American cactus flora

  • Verne Grant
  • Karen A. Grant


The cacti of the American Southwest, defined as the region from southern California to Texas, are surveyed for types of pollination systems and their frequencies. Four types of pollination systems are known to occur in the southwestern cactus flora: bee, hummingbird, hawkmoth, and bat pollination. Two other modes are suspected but not documented: miscellaneous smallinsect pollination and autogamy.—Bee flowers comprise a wide and nearly continuous series of size classes from very small to very large. The large bee flowers, with perianths 5.5 to 12.5 cm in diameter, form a prominent but arbitrarily delimited subcategory in the bee pollination system. Promiscuous flowers and autogamous flowers, if they occur, are included with the medium-sized and small bee flowers in our present classification, due to lack of information, and will have to be separated out when our knowledge is more complete. The overwhelming majority of species in the southwestern cactus flora are bee flowers. Between 39 and 44% of the species are large bee flowers. Another 50 to 56% of the species are classified as medium-sized and small bee flowers; while some of these may turn out to be promiscuous flowers and autogamous flowers, most of them are undoubtedly bee flowers.—Hummingbird, hawkmoth, and bat pollination are conspicuous but statistically minor components of the pollination spectrum, occurring in only one or a few species (see Table 2). Hummingbird pollination has arisen from bee pollination in the Southwest. The species or species groups with hawkmoth and bat pollination, on the other hand, are basically tropical groups which developed their advanced pollination systems in the tropics.

Key words

Cactaceae Flower pollination 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alcorn, S. M., McGregor, S. E., Butler, G. D., Kurtz, E. B., 1959: Pollination requirements of the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea). — Cactus Succulent J.31, 39–41.Google Scholar
  2. —, 1962: Pollination requirements of the organpipe cactus. — Cactus Succulent J.34, 134–138.Google Scholar
  3. Benson, L., 1969a: The Cacti of Arizona; ed. 3. — Tucson: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  4. —, 1969b: The Native Cacti of California. — Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. —, 1969c:Cactaceae. — InLundell, C. L.: Flora of Texas2, 221–317. — Renner (Texas): Texas Research Foundation.Google Scholar
  6. —, 1965: The southern Californian prickly pears—invasion, adulteration, and trial-by-fire. — Ann. Missouri Bot. Garden52, 262–273.Google Scholar
  7. Britton, N. L., Rose, J. N., 1963: TheCactaceae; ed. 2, reprint. — New York: Dover Publications (Original printing of edition 2 in 1937).Google Scholar
  8. Faegri, K., Pijl, L. Van der, 1971: The Principles of Pollination Ecology; ed. 2. — Oxford and New York: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fawcett, W., Rendle, A. B., 1926: Flora of Jamaica5, 271–286. — London: British Museum.Google Scholar
  10. Gibson, A. C., 1978: Systematic anatomy and phylogeny of Mexican columnar cacti. — Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard., in press.Google Scholar
  11. Grant, K. A., Grant, V., 1967: Records of hummingbird pollination in the western American flora, III. — Aliso6, 107–110.Google Scholar
  12. Grant, V., Grant, K. A., 1979a: Pollination ofEchinocereus fasciculatus andFerocactus wislizenii. (Pollination of North American cacti, I.) — Pl. Syst. Evol.132, 85–90.Google Scholar
  13. ,, 1979b: Pollination ofOpuntia basilaris andO. littoralis. (Pollination of North American cacti, III.) — Pl. Syst. Evol.132, 321–325.Google Scholar
  14. , Hurd, P. D., 1979: Pollination ofOpuntia lindheimeri and related species. (Pollination of North American cacti, II.) — Pl. Syst. Evol.132, 313–320.Google Scholar
  15. , Hurd, P. D., 1979: Pollination of the Southwestern Opuntias. (Pollination of North American cacti, IV.) — Pl. Syst. Evol.133, 15–28.Google Scholar
  16. Hurd, P. D., 1978: SuperfamilyApoidea. — InKrombein, K. V., & al. (Eds.): Catalog ofHymenoptera in America North of Mexico2. — Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.Google Scholar
  17. Knuth, P., 1906–1909: Handbook of Flower Pollination. 3 vol., translation. — Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kugler, H., 1970: Blütenökologie; ed. 2. — Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. Lack, D., 1976: Island Biology; Illustrated by the Land Birds of Jamaica. — Berkeley: Univ. California Press.Google Scholar
  20. McGregor, S. E., Alcorn, S. M., Olin, G., 1962: Pollination and pollinating agents of the saguaro. — Ecology43, 259–267.Google Scholar
  21. Moran, R., 1961: Visitantes de las flores dePachycereus pringlei. — Cactaceas (Mexico)6, 94–96.Google Scholar
  22. , 1962: Visitors to the flowers ofPachycereus pringlei. — Cactus Succulent J.17, 21.Google Scholar
  23. Porsch, O., 1937: Die Bestäubungseinrichtungen derLoxanthocerei. —Cactaceae, Jahrb. Deutsch. Kakteen-Gesellsch.1937, 15–20.Google Scholar
  24. , 1938: Das Bestäubungsleben der Kakteenblüte, I. —Cactaceae, Jahrb. Deutsch. Kakteen-Gesellsch.1938, 1–80.Google Scholar
  25. , 1939: Das Bestäubungsleben der Kakteenblüte, II. —Cactaceae, Jahrb. Deutsch. Kakteen-Gesellsch.1939, 81–142.Google Scholar
  26. Vogel, S., 1968: Chiropterophilie in der neotropischen Flora, Neue Mitteilungen I. — Flora (B)157, 562–602.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Verne Grant
    • 1
  • Karen A. Grant
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity of TexasAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations