Małgorzata Stpiczyńska, Bartosz J. Płachno & Kevin L. Davies
Photos by the authors
Abstract: Although many Orchidaceae have deceit flowers that produce no reward, the most common reward, when present, is nectar. Bulbophyllum, however, is unusual in that the labellar secretions of most species investigated to date lack sugars, and, therefore, cannot be considered true nectar. The African species Bulbophyllum saltatorium is an exception in that it produces not only nectar but also possesses specialized, capitate oleiferous trichomes. The nectary of B. saltatorium is borne on the labellum and is represented by a deep, narrow, median longitudinal groove, having a small aperture, and flanked by trichomes. Isodiametric epidermal cells lining this groove secrete nectar which collects both in the groove and on the surface of the labellum. As well as a nectary, the labellum of B. saltatorium also bears three types of unicellular trichomes: the longest trichomes are borne distally and abaxially; the marginal ones form a rim around the entire labellum, and finally, massive, capitate trichomes occur proximally and adaxially. These are oleiferous, containing large quantities of oil which might function as precursors of volatile components of fragrance or provide a food-reward. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time for such oleiferous trichomes to be described for Bulbophyllum. Therefore, apart from their color and markings, flowers of this species are able to attract pollinators in at least two, possibly three ways: food-reward in the form of nectar; fragrance; and possibly food-rewards in the form of food-hairs.
Published in Protoplasma (2018) 255: 565 - 574