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    Description

    Xerophyllum tenax is a mass-flowering, nectarless herb in which self-pollination is unavoidable as anthers shed pollen onto the three, receptive stigmatic ridges attached to each pistil within a few hours after expansion of the perianth. We compared the pollination system with reproductive success in this species through controlled, hand-pollination experiments. Ovaries of flowers sampled from unbagged inflorescences were visited by pollen-eating flies (primarily members of the family Syrphidae), beetles (primarily Cosmosalia and Epicauta spp.), and small bees, and produced normal-sized capsules and mature seeds. Ovaries of flowers from inflorescences bagged to prevent insect pollination produced small capsules containing undeveloped or no seeds. Epifluorescence analyses suggest that 0.95 of the uncovered flowers are cross-pollinated by insects with pollen tubes penetrating style and ovary tissue. Flowers show a "leaky" but eariy-acting self-incompatibility system. While hundreds of pollen tubes germinate on each stigmatic surface following self-pollination, few pollen tubes penetrate the stigmatic surface and none penetrate the ovary. In contrast, when stigmas are cross-pollinated by hand with pollen from a second inflorescence pollen tubes were seen penetrating style and ovary. Self-incompatibility in X. tenax parallels that of some species of Trillium, a sister genus within the Melanthiaceae.

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    Citation

    Vance, Nan C.; Bernhardt, Peter; Edens, Retha M. 2004. Pollination and seed production in Xerophyllum tenax (Melanthiaceae) in the Cascade Range of central Oregon. American Journal of Botany. 91(12): 2060-2068

    Keywords

    beargrass, Melanthiaceae, pollen, pollination, seed production, self-incompatibility, Xerophyllum tenax

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