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Pseudopollen in Dendrobium unicum Seidenf. (Orchidaceae): Reward or Deception?

K. L. DAVIES and M. P. TURNER
Annals of Botany
Vol. 94, No. 1 (July 2004), pp. 129-132
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42759182
Page Count: 4
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Pseudopollen in Dendrobium unicum Seidenf. (Orchidaceae): Reward or Deception?
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Abstract

• Background and Aims In 1987, Kjellsson and Rasmussen described the labellar trichomes of Dendrobium unicum Seidenf. and proposed that these hairs function as pseudopollen. Pseudopollen is a mealy material that superficially resembles pollen, is usually laden with food substances and is formed when labellar hairs either fragment into individual cells or become detached from the labellum. However, the trichomes of D. unicum are very different from pseudopollen-forming hairs found in other orchid genera such as Maxillaria and Polystachya. Moreover, Kjellsson and Rasmussen were unable to demonstrate the presence of food substances within these trichomes and argued that even in the absence of food substances, the hairs, in that they superficially resemble pollen, can still attract insects by deceit. The aim of this paper is to investigate whether the labellar trichomes of D. unicum contain food reserves and thus reward potential pollinators or whether they are devoid of foods and attract insects solely by mimicry. • Methods Light microscopy, histochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. • Key Results Dendrobium unicum produces pseudopollen. Pseudopollen here, however, differs from that previously described for other orchid genera in that the pseudopollen-forming trichomes consist of a stalk cell and a 'head' of component cells that separate at maturity, in contrast to Maxillaria and some Polystachya spp. where pseudopollen is formed by the fragmentation of moniliform hairs. Moreover, the pseudopollen of Maxillaria and Polystachya largely contains protein, whereas in D. unicum the main food substance is starch. • Conclusions Flowers of D. unicum, rather than attracting insects solely by deceit may also reward potential pollinators.

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