Pollen flow in a population of Primula vulgaris Huds.



A British population of Primula vulgaris was visited four times between 1971 and 1976 for study of the nature and functioning of distyly. The stainability and production of pollen from pins exceeded those of thrums. About 20% of pin pollen and 48% of thrum pollen was removed from anthers by insect visitors. Pins and thrums were present in a 1:1 ratio in 1971 but pins outnumbered thrums in 1976. Thrums produced more seeds per flower than pins though the number of ovules produced by each was similar. Two methods for collecting stigmas from open flowers and analyzing them for pollen loans produced somewhat different results. For pin stigmas, the pollen load consisted of 2–23% thrum pollen; for thrum stigmas, the pollen load consisted of 0–71% pin pollen with most stigmas having less than 50% pin pollen. In general, intermorph pollen flow is less than would be expected if pollen flow were random. It is probable that most intramorph pollen on stigmas is a result of self- or geitonogamous pollination. The extensive literature concerning the natural pollinators of the primrose is reviewed. Although Darwin's hypothesis concerning the functional significance of distyly in promoting intermorph pollination was never quantified, the pollen flow patterns observed in P. vulgaris are unexpectedly deviant and are similar to those patterns observed in several unrelated heterostylous species in other plant families.