Wittaya Pakum, Anupan Kongbangkerd, Kanok-Orn Srimuang, Stephan W. Gale and Santi Watthana
Pollination in Bulbophyllum nipondhii with a Megaselia sp.
Photos by the authors
Dimensions measured to assess morphological correspondence between flowers of Bulbophyllum niphondii and its pollinator, Megaselia sp. Drawn by Wittaya Pakum
Abstract: The breeding system and pollination biology of a rare epiphytic orchid, Bulbophyllum nipondhii Seidenf., were investigated in Northeast Thailand. We demonstrate that the species is strongly, but not completely, self-incompatible, with a fruit-set of 5.0–5.7% following manual selfing and 65.0–65.7% following manual out-crossing, and that it requires a pollen vector for effective pollination in the wild. Natural fruit-set was 4.2–6.7%. The flowers are nectarless and emanate a faint scent reminiscent of decaying wood. The elastically-hinged lip acts as a seesaw balance which tips when a pollinator enters the flower, propelling the insect against the column. Effective pollinators were an unidentified female scuttle fly species, Megaselia sp. (Diptera: Phoridae), with the flowers apparently conforming to a sapromyiophilous pollination syndrome. Phoridae are herewith reported as pollinators of Bulbophyllum for the first time.
Published in Flora vol. 267 (?) (2019)