We analyze the latitudinal shift in the onset of synchronous flowering in the woody genera Montanoa and Simsia (Asteraceae) between Mexico (28° N) and the Equator, where it cannot be caused by declining day length. Synchronous flowering of >100 Montanoa quadrangularis trees was observed during two consecutive years near Cali, Colombia (4° N). Analysis of herbarium specimens yielded flowering periods for 21 Montanoa species and 18 Simsia species between 4 and 28° N. Daily insolation is a function of day length and the angle at which the sun’s rays strike the earth. Between Mexico and Colombia (4° N), the maximum of insolation gradually shifts from the summer solstice to the autumn equinox. In parallel, flowering of Montanoa and Simsia starts progressively later between July and November, during the period of declining insolation. Near the Equator, there are two periods of declining insolation, and correspondingly, two flowering periods. Thus, at all tropical latitudes, flowering time of Montanoa and Simsia is highly correlated with declining insolation. The seasonal decline in daily insolation, rather than in photoperiod, apparently induces synchronous flowering of Montanoa and Simsia at the same time each year.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Böhlenius H, Huang T, Charbonnel-Campaa L, Brunner AM, Jansson S, Strauss S, Nilsson O (2006) CO/FT module controls timing of flowering and seasonal growth cessation in trees. Science 312:1040–1043
Borchert R (1996) Phenology and flowering periodicity of neotropical dry forest species: evidence from herbarium collections. J Trop Ecol 12:65–80
Borchert R, Rivera G (2001) Photoperiodic control of seasonal development and dormancy in tropical stem-succulent trees. Tree Physiol 21:213–221
Borchert R, Renner SS, Calle Z, Navarrete D, Tye A, Gautier L, Spichiger R, von Hildebrand P (2005) Photoperiodic induction of synchronous flowering near the Equator. Nature 433:627–629
Calle Z (2002) Temporal variation in the reproduction of Montanoa quadrangularis in the Andes of Colombia: declining photoperiod as a likely environmental trigger. Biotropica 34:621–622
Calle Z (2003) Restauración de suelos y vegetación nativa. Chapter 5. Apotema, Medellín, Colombia
Cregan PB, Hartwig EE (1984) Characterization of flowering response to photoperiod in diverse soybean genotypes. Crop Sci 24:657–662
Croat TB (1969) Seasonal flowering behavior in central Panama. Ann Mo Bot Gard 56:295–307
Engelmann W (2007) How plants identify the season by using a circadian clock. In: Mancuso S, Shabala S (eds) Rhythms in plants. Springer, Heidelberg, pp 179–198
Funk VA (1982) The systematics of Montanoa (Asteraceae, Heliantheae). Mem N Y Bot Gard 36:1–133
Garner WW, Allard HA (1920) Effect of the relative length of day and night and other factors of the environment on growth and reproduction in plants. J Agric Res 43:439–443
Holttum RE (1940) Periodic leaf-exchange and flowering of trees in Singapore (II). Gardens Bull SS 11:119–175
Lüttge U, Hertel B (2009) Diurnal and annual rhythms of trees and their relations to the circadian clock. Trees 23:683–700
McMillan C (1970) Photoperiod in Xanthium populations from Texas and Mexico. Am J Bot 57:881–888
Melzer S, Lens F, Gennen J, Vanneste S, Rohde A, Beeckman T (2008) Flowering-time genes modulate meristem determinacy and growth form in Arabidopsis thaliana. Nat Genet 40:1489–1492
Opler PA, Frankie GW, Baker HG (1980) Comparative phenological studies of treelet and shrub species in tropical wet and dry forests in the lowlands of Costa Rica. J Ecol 68:167–188
Primack D, Imbres C, Primack RB, Miller-Rushing AJ, Del Tredici P (2004) Herbarium specimens demonstrate earlier flowering in response to warming in Boston. Am J Bot 91:1260–1264
Ray PM, Alexander WE (1966) Photoperiodic adaptation to latitude in Xanthium strumarium. Am J Bot 53:806–816
Rivera G, Borchert R (2001) Induction of flowering in tropical trees by a 30-min reduction in photoperiod: evidence from field observations and herbarium specimens. Tree Physiol 21:202–212
Rivera G, Elliott S, Caldas LS, Nicolossi G, Coradin VTR, Borchert R (2002) Increasing day length induces spring flushing of tropical trees in the absence of rain. Trees 16:445–456
Spooner DM (1990) Systematics of Simsia (Compositae-Heliantheae). Syst Bot Monogr 30:1–90
Strahler AN, Strahler AH (2003) Physical geography: science and systems of the human environment. Wiley, New York
Thomas B, Vince-Prue D (1997) Photoperiodism in plants. Academic Press, San Diego
Van Schaik CP, Terborgh JW, Wright J (1993) The phenology of tropical forests: adaptive significance and consequences for primary consumers. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 24:353–377
Wright SJ (1996) Phenological responses to seasonality in tropical forest plants. In: Mulkey SS, Chazdon RL, Smith AP (eds) Tropical forest ecophysiology. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp 440–460
Yeang H-Y (2007a) Synchronous flowering of the rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) induced by solar radiation intensity. New Phytol 175:283–289
Yeang H-Y (2007b) The sunshine-mediated trigger of synchronous flowering in the tropics: the rubber tree as a study model. New Phytol 176:730–735
Research on Montanoa quadrangularis was supported by the International Foundation for Science (IFS), Colciencias and SENA (Colombia). Eudaly Giraldo assisted in recording M. quadrangularis flowering in the field. Laura Borchert helped to record flowering times of Montanoa and Simsia in the herbarium collections of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Susanne S. Renner, University of Munich, and R. Guy (University of British Columbia) gave valuable advice on the manuscript.
Communicated by R. Guy.
About this article
Cite this article
Calle, Z., Strahler, A.H. & Borchert, R. Declining insolation induces synchronous flowering of Montanoa and Simsia (Asteraceae) between Mexico and the Equator. Trees 23, 1247–1254 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00468-009-0364-6
- Day length
- Tropical trees