Pollination and comparative reproductive success of lady's slipper orchids Cypripedium candidum, C. parviflorum, and their hybrids in southern Manitoba

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Pearn, Melissa
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I investigated how orchid biology, floral morphology, and diversity of surrounding floral and pollinator communities affected reproductive success and hybridization of Cypripedium candidum and C. parviflorum. Floral dimensions, including pollinator exit routes were smallest in C. candidum, largest in C. parviflorum, with hybrids intermediate and overlapping with both. This pattern was mirrored in the number of insect visitors, fruit set, and seed set. Exit route size seemed to restrict potential pollinators to a subset of visiting insects, which is consistent with reports from other rewardless orchids. Overlap among orchid taxa in morphology, pollinators, flowering phenology, and spatial distribution, may affect the frequency and direction of pollen transfer and hybridization. The composition and abundance of co-flowering rewarding plants seems to be important for maintaining pollinators in orchid populations. Comparisons with orchid fruit set indicated that individual co-flowering species may be facilitators or competitors for pollinator attention, affecting orchid reproductive success.
Orchidaceae, pollination, endangered species, hybridization, tall grass prairie, rewardless flowers