The advantage of early flowering in the spring ephemeral annual plant Floerkea proserpinacoides


Author for correspondence: Gilles HouleTel: +1 418 656 2131×2691Fax: +1 418 656 2043Email:


• Internal conflicts in the allocation of resources lead to trade-offs or compromises that can influence fitness and the evolution of specific life-history traits.

• Here, the reproductive schedule of Floerkea proserpinacoides plants, a spring ephemeral annual of the deciduous forests of eastern North America, was manipulated to determine the presence of potential conflicts between growth and reproduction, and the advantage of early reproduction.

• Plants on which flowering was delayed had a greater relative growth rate (RGR) and vegetative biomass than control plants after 8 wks (when control plants started to senesce). Delayed-flowering plants took 1 week longer to senesce, which allowed them to mature almost as many seeds as did control plants in 8 wks.

• However, late flowering in F. proserpinacoides may be maladaptive. With reduced light availability through canopy closure, early flowering plants can rapidly divert most of the resources accumulated in the stem and leaves to seed maturation. Thus, the advantage of maintaining a higher RGR by delaying flowering is associated with the greater disadvantage of necessitating more time to mature seeds.