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Keywords:

  • Hybridisation;
  • floral odour;
  • Orchis mascula;
  • Orchis pauciflora;
  • pollination;
  • species differentiation;
  • food deception.

Abstract: One third of all orchid species are deceptive and do not reward their pollinators. Such deceptive orchids are often characterised by unusually high variation in floral signals such as colour and scent. In this study, we investigated the scent composition of two Mediterranean food-deceptive orchids Orchis mascula, Orchis pauciflora, and their hybrid, O.×colemanii. Scent was collected in situ by headspace sorption and was subsequently analysed with gas chromatography and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. We compared variation of odour compounds within and between populations as well as species. We identified 35 floral scent compounds, mainly monoterpenes, which were shared by both species. Both quantitative and qualitative variability within and among populations was high. Many individuals within species could be classified to different “odour-types”. In spite of high qualitative and quantitative intra- and inter-population variability, the species were clearly differentiated in their scent bouquets, whereas most hybrid individuals emitted an intermediate scent.