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Insect Pollination of the Endangered Monkey-Face Orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) in McMinn County, Tennessee: One Last Glimpse of a Once Common Spectacle

Lawrence W. Zettler, Neeraj S. Ahuja and Thomas M. McInnis, Jr.
Castanea
Vol. 61, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 14-24
Published by: Allen Press on behalf of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4033746
Page Count: 11
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Insect Pollination of the Endangered Monkey-Face Orchid (Platanthera integrilabia) in McMinn County, Tennessee: One Last Glimpse of a Once Common Spectacle
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Abstract

The Monkey-face Orchid, Platanthera integrilabia, was locally common on the Cumberland Plateau of Kentucky and Tennessee prior to the 1940s, but is currently a C2 candidate for United States protection as an endangered species. Insect pollination of this orchid is described for the first time at the largest remaining population of the species, located in McMinn County, Tennessee, just prior to peak flowering (12-15 August 1992). Despite the orchid having flowers adapted to sphingid moth pollination, three day-flying Lepidoptera (Epargyreus clarus, Papilio glaucus, and P. troilus) carried pollinia on compound eyes and were pollinators. Over half of all flowers (624 of 1,096 or 56.9%) set fruit two months after flowering. A mean of 4.7 capsules per inflorescence and 3,433 seeds per capsule was recorded. The survival of P. integrilabia will likely depend on the continued existence of the McMinn County population as a seed source for a vigorous program to reestablish seedlings in suitable habitats.

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