• constraints;
  • hierarchical selection analysis;
  • intrafloral integration;
  • natural selection;
  • phenotypic integration;
  • variance–covariance structure


  • • 
    Floral integration has been deemed an adaptation to increase the benefits of animal pollination, yet no attempts have been made to estimate its adaptive value under natural conditions.
  • • 
    Here, the variation in the magnitude and pattern of phenotypic floral integration and the variance–covariance structure of floral traits in four species of Rosaceae were examined. The intensity of natural selection acting on floral phenotypic integration was also estimated and the available evidence regarding the magnitude of floral integration reviewed.
  • • 
    The species studied had similar degrees of floral integration, although significant differences were observed in their variance–covariance structure. Selection acted on subsets of floral traits (i.e. selection on intrafloral integration) rather than on the integration of the whole flower. Average integration was 20% and similar to the estimated mean value of flowering plants.
  • • 
    The review indicated that flowering plants present lower integration than expected by chance. Numerical simulations suggest that this pattern may result from selection favouring intrafloral integration. Phenotypic integration at the flower level seems to have a low adaptive value among the species surveyed. Moreover, it is proposed that pollinator-mediated selection promotes the evolution of intrafloral integration.