• Anther dehiscence;
  • floral display;
  • flower longevity;
  • pollen presentation schedule;
  • pollination efficiency


Pollen presentation theory (PPT) predicts that plant species typically pollinated by frequent and wasteful pollinators ought to be much more parsimonious and only gradually release pollen compared to plant species pollinated by infrequent pollinators that are efficient at delivering the pollen they remove. To test PPT, we compare the pollen presentation schedules and pollination systems in three related Epimedium species, having different pollinators. Results showed that differences in anther dehiscence and flowering traits resulted in different pollen packaging schedules. For Esutchuenense and Efranchetii, a special ‘roll-up’ movement of the anther wall during anther dehiscence increased pollen removal compared to the dehiscence pattern in Emikinorii, which lacked the ‘roll-up’ movement. Investigations revealed that honeybees had a higher pollen removal rate and lower stigmatic pollen load compared to bumblebees. In accordance with PPT, Esutchuenense presents pollen sequentially and slowly for the frequent and wasteful honeybees. In comparison to Esutchuenense, Efranchetii had a faster presentation rate and was adapted to the efficient and infrequent bumblebees. However, Emikinorii was pollinated by both bumblebees and honeybees at high frequency and had the fastest pollen presentation. This pattern could reduce pollen wastage by honeybees and might be an adaptation to its short flower longevity (less than 1 day), to increase the chances of pollen deposition on stigmas. The study indicates that pollen presentation schedules can be a consequence of interactions among anther dehiscence, flowering traits and pollination environments for a given species.