Rain-splash pollination in a deceptive orchid

Rain-splash pollination in a deceptive orchid

Rain-splash pol­lin­a­tion in a decept­ive orchid

Pollination by rain (ombro­phily) has been repor­ted for sev­eral flower­ing plants but evid­ence for this type of abi­otic pol­lin­a­tion has remained con­tro­ver­sial. Fan et al. invest­ig­ate the repro­duct­ive eco­logy of Acampe rigida, a decept­ive orchid with high fruit set that blooms dur­ing the rainy sea­son in south-west China when pol­lin­ator ser­vice is unre­li­able. They find that A. rigida is self-compatible but incap­able of autonom­ous self-pollination without the assist­ance of rain splashes, and demon­strate that the orchid has a suite of floral char­ac­ters that facil­it­ate this. By means of a manip­u­lat­ive field exper­i­ment they provide con­vin­cing evid­ence of ombro­phily, which prob­ably func­tions as a mech­an­ism of repro­duct­ive assur­ance without com­prom­ising oppor­tun­it­ies for outcrossing.

Annals of Botany Office.

The Annals of Botany Office is based at the University of Leicester.