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A weevil pollinating the Canary Islands date palm: between parasitism and mutualism


Palm pollination systems are highly diverse, including by wind and by several different groups of insects. Many palm species are associated with more or less specific pollinating weevils that are also floral herbivores. For many such palms, the importance of these "palm flower weevils" as pollinators has not been examined. Here we describe a new ex situ method of demonstrating insect pollination when pollinator exclusion is not possible. We show that Neoderelomus piriformis beetles carry pollen and deposit it on the stigma of Phoenix canariensis. Up until now, pollination systems in Phoenix have been unclear, despite the economic importance of the date palm P. dactylifera. We demonstrate here that small weevils that visit inflorescences and often inconspicuously hide there could be efficient pollinators.

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The authors thank S. Piry for drawing our attention to beetles on P. canariensis and D. McKey and three anonymous reviewers for both scientific and linguistic comments on the manuscript. A.M. is grateful to the Plant Genetics Conservation Project in Bangkok for support and to the French government for funding. These experiments comply with the current laws of France.

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Correspondence to Marie-Charlotte Anstett.

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Meekijjaroenroj, A., Anstett, MC. A weevil pollinating the Canary Islands date palm: between parasitism and mutualism. Naturwissenschaften 90, 452–455 (2003).

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  • Female Flower
  • Date Palm
  • Pollination Experiment
  • Floral Visitor
  • Wind Pollination