Pollination ecology of Arum italicum (Araceae)


*Corresponding author. E-mail: gibernau@cict.fr


The pollination ecology of Arum italicum was studied in south-western France. This plant attracts olfactory dung-breeding flies through deceit. These insects are principally represented by Diptera, all belonging to saprophyte families. The volatilization of the odouriferous compounds, responsible for their attraction, is achieved through the production of heat by the appendix. The insects are trapped for 24 h in order to participate in both sexual phases of the protogynous inflorescence. The male flowers produce three heat events during flowering. These peaks of heat seem to be involved in the spathe movements, since they occur during the opening of the inflorescence and the liberation of the insects. The last male heat event may be linked with the liberation of pollen and its dispersion by stimulating trapped flies. According to their frequency and pollen-load, two Psychoda species appear to be the most efficient pollinators (P. crassipenis and P. pusilla). Nevertheless, each of the other attracted species could play a significant role under different spatio-temporal conditions. Experiments on self-pollination have shown that obligate cross-pollination is necessary for A. italicum to set seeds. Moreover, hand- and natural-pollinated plants showed similarly high abortion frequencies suggesting that seed set may be more constrained by resources rather than by pollination limitation. © 2003 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2003, 141, 205–214.