The evolution of polymorphic sexual systems in daffodils (Narcissus)


Author for correspondence: Spencer C. H. Barrett Tel: 416-978-4151 Fax: 416-978-5878 Email:


Narcissus, the daffodil genus, exhibits an unusual diversity of sexual systems, with populations that are monomorphic, dimorphic or trimorphic for style length. Associated with this variation are striking differences among species in floral morphology and pollination biology. This diversity provides an opportunity to investigate the evolution of mating polymorphisms, and to determine how floral morphology promotes transitions among sexual systems. Because of the absence of heteromorphic incompatibility in Narcissus, floral morphology plays a key role in governing patterns of outcrossed mating. Phylogenetic evidence indicates that stylar monomorphism is ancestral in the genus, with multiple origins of stylar polymorphism, including independent origins of stigma-height dimorphism, distyly and tristyly. Sexual polymorphisms have evolved only in lineages with narrow floral tubes that are pollinated by Lepidoptera and/or long-tongued bees. Populations of polymorphic Narcissus species are typically dominated by the long-styled morph and display imperfect reciprocity in the positions of sexual organs. These features are consequences of the unusual association between stylar polymorphism and a self-incompatibility system that permits intramorph mating.