• floral color change;
  • geitonogamous pollination;
  • temporal pattern;
  • time retention;
  • Weigela japonica var. sinica

Abstract  Floral color changes are common in Weigela and the retention of post-change flowers has been interpreted as a mechanism to increase attractiveness from a long distance and shorten pollinators’ lingering time on the inflorescence(s) of individual plants. In the present study, we investigated the temporal pattern of floral color change and time required for pollen tube growth in the shrub Weigela japonica var. sinica. Over the 4-day anthesis, the color of the corolla in this species changes from white to red and the color cue changes from yellow to purple. The duration of both the white phase and the intermediate phase is approximately 1 day and the duration of the red phase is approximately 2 days. Our studies showed that color change in Weigela japonica var. sinica is age-dependent but independent of pollinator visits and flower pollination. Post-change flowers lost most of both the male and female residual reproductive ability and retained no rewards for pollinators. It took at least 3 days for a pollen tube to grow to the ovules and achieve fertilization. Thus, retention of post-change flowers is necessary for the completion of pollen tube growth. Our results indicate that the temporal pattern of color change and time requirement for pollen tube growth are most likely related events.