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Keywords:

  • deceptive pollination;
  • epidermis;
  • floral traits;
  • morphology;
  • natural selection

Pollinators have long been known to select for floral traits, but the nature of this relationship has been little investigated in trap pollination systems. We investigated the trapping devices of 15 Arum spp. and compared them with the types of insects trapped. Most species shared a similar general design of trap chamber walls covered in downward-pointing papillate cells, lacunose cells in the chamber wall and elongated sterile flowers partially blocking the exit of the trap. However, there was significant variation in all these morphological features between species. Furthermore, these differences related to the type of pollinator trapped. Most strikingly, species pollinated by midges had a slippery epidermal surface consisting of smaller papillae than in species pollinated by other insects. Midge-pollinated species also had more elongated sterile flowers and tended to have a larger lacunose area. We conclude that pollination traps evolve in response to the type of insect trapped and that changes to the slippery surfaces of the chamber wall are an important and previously little recognized variable in the design of pollination traps. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 172, 385–397.