The pollination spectrum in the southwestern American cactus flora

Abstract

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.

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Pollination of North American Cacti, V. See alsoGrant & Grant (1979a),Grant & al. (1979),Grant & Grant (1979b),Grant &Hurd (1979).

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Grant, V., Grant, K.A. The pollination spectrum in the southwestern American cactus flora. Pl Syst Evol 133, 29–37 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00985877

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Key words

  • Cactaceae
  • Flower pollination