• Breeding system;
  • diploidy;
  • floral trait;
  • Hedychium ;
  • reproductive divergence;
  • tetraploidy


The evolutionary advantages of polyploidy may result from a number of changes in floral traits and breeding system, which may enable polyploids to exploit new habitats and become widespread. In this study, we comparatively investigated the floral biology of the tetraploid species Hedychium villosum and its diploid progenitor H. tenuiflorum, to assess reproductive divergence between the two species. The results showed that flowers of the tetraploid species last longer and produce more nectar than did diploid species. The flowering times of the two species did not overlap at all. Observations of floral visitors in natural populations demonstrated that butterflies and hawkmoths were effective pollinators of both species, but there was a significant difference in butterfly and hawkmoth assemblages between the two species. The hand-pollination experiments and pollen tube growth experiments suggested that diploid Htenuiflorum was self-incompatible, while tetraploid Hvillosum was completely self-compatible. Hvillosum has a much wider distribution range and occupies more diverse habitats than H. tenuiflorum. Polyploidisation may enable tetraploid Hvillosum to exploit new habitats previously unavailable to diploid H. tenuiflorum.