Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 1149–1161 | Cite as

Food in a row: urban trees offer valuable floral resources to pollinating insects

  • Laurent Somme
  • Laura Moquet
  • Muriel Quinet
  • Maryse Vanderplanck
  • Denis Michez
  • Georges Lognay
  • Anne-Laure JacquemartEmail author


Urbanization affects the availability and diversity of floral resources (pollen and/or nectar) for wild pollinating insects. For example, urban green areas are characterized by an abundance of ornamental plant species. Increasingly, trees are planted to improve the aesthetics of urban streets and parks. These urban trees might offer important floral resources to pollinating insects. To examine the suitability of urban trees as resources for pollinating insects, we investigated the chemical composition of pollen and nectar as well as the amount of nectar produced by the nine major insect-pollinated tree species planted in cities of Western Europe, namely Acer pseudoplatanus, Aesculus carnea, A. hippocastanum, Robinia pseudoacacia, Tilia cordata, T. x euchlora, T. x europaea, T. platyphyllos and T. tomentosa. The analyses revealed that globally the Tilia trees provide pollen with lower contents of polypeptides, amino acids and phytosterols compared with the other species. Urban tree flowers offer abundant nectar with relatively high sugar contents (0.16–1.28 mg/flower); sucrose was the predominant sugar in all nectars. The investigated tree species could therefore be considered in future city plantings.


Urban biodiversity Pollen Nectar Insect visitors Bees 



We thank D. Geerinck, V. Decoux (Bruxelles Mobilité), S. Kempeneers (Bruxelles Environnement) and M. Wollast (ApisBruoc’Sella) for site identification. We are grateful to N. Roger, C. Buyens, and I. Van de Vreken for technical assistance, L. C. Kouonon for field assistance, R. Wattiez (Proteomics and Biochemistry of Proteins, University of Mons) and Bernard Wathelet (Industrial Biological Chemistry Unit, University of Liège) for granting access to their lab, and M. Warnier (Centre Apicole de Recherche et d’Information, Louvain-la-Neuve) for nectar analyses. We thank A. Valster and N. R. Hoffmann (Plant Editors cooperative) for language improvement, and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments on a previous version of the manuscript. MV holds a “Chargé de Recherches” fellowship (Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique, Belgium). This work was supported by Innoviris, Brussels (contract BB2B 2012-2-15, post-doc grant for L.C. Kouonon).

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurent Somme
    • 1
  • Laura Moquet
    • 1
  • Muriel Quinet
    • 1
  • Maryse Vanderplanck
    • 2
  • Denis Michez
    • 2
  • Georges Lognay
    • 3
  • Anne-Laure Jacquemart
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Earth and Life Institute, Research Group Genetics, Reproduction, PopulationsUniversité catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratory of Zoology, Research Institute of BiosciencesUniversité de MonsMonsBelgium
  3. 3.Laboratory of Analytical Chemistry, Gembloux Agro-Bio TechUniversité de LiègeGemblouxBelgium

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