Free access
Volume 38, Number 2, March-April 2007
Page(s) 198 - 206
Published online 10 February 2007
Apidologie 38 (2007) 198-206
DOI: 10.1051/apido:2006071

Pollination of invasive Rhododendron ponticum (Ericaceae) in Ireland

Jane Catherine Stout

Botany Department, School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland

(Received 7 December 2005 - Revised 31 August 2006 - Accepted 7 September 2006 - Published online 10 February 2007)

Abstract - Several insect species visited exotic Rhododendron ponticum flowers, but bumblebees were most common. Only bumblebees (and one Vespula) contacted the flower stigma whilst foraging and are probably the main pollinators. One-third of insect visits resulted in stigma contact and visitation rates were high. This explains the high seed set reported elsewhere. There were significant differences according to the body size of visitors, with large queen bees contacting stigmas more often than smaller workers. There were no significant differences in behaviour of three species (Bombus jonellus, B. lucorum and B. monticola) and all bees tended to move short distances between flowers on a single plant. Longer flights and movements among plants were rare. Pollen carryover was estimated to be high: there was no decline in the amount of pollen deposited on stigmas from the first to fifth flower visited. The impact of bee behaviour on reproduction and invasion by exotic R. ponticum is discussed.

Key words: body size / exotic plant / invasion / pollen transfer / weeds / pollination / Bombus / insect

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© INRA, DIB-AGIB, EDP Sciences 2007