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Chamaedorea pinnitafrons

Chamaedorea pinnitafrons

Today's photograph is courtesy of van swearingen@Flickr (original | BPotD Flickr Group Pool), who took the image at the New York Botanical Garden. Thank you!

Often, you will hear of insect pollination (entomophily) or wind pollination (anemophily), but I'll wager you rarely hear about insect-induced wind pollination — the pollination mode used by this understory palm of Mexico, Central America and northern South America (see: Listabarth, C. 1993. Insect-induced wind pollination of the palm Chamaedorea pinnatifrons and pollination in the related Wendlandiella sp.. Biodiversity and Conservation. 2(1): 39-50). I'll quote from the abstract: “In C. pinnatifrons both sexes flower synchronously during the dry season. Prior to anthesis, the pendulous male inflorescence is inhabited by numerous thrips (Thysanoptera) and Ptiliidae (Coleoptera). Staminate flowers open by a small basal slit between the petals. At anthesis pollen is shed and the movements of the insects inside the flowers trigger pollen release in small clouds. Thus, the powdery pollen becomes airborne and finally air currents act as a vector, carrying pollen to the inconspicuous female plants, which usually are not visited by insects.

Today's photograph is significantly post-pollination, as these are the ripening fruits on a female plant. An image of the male inflorescence, though, is available via the Palm & Cycad Societies of Australia: Chamaedorea pinnitafrons.

A fact sheet on the species is available via PalmBase, or the Palms of Ecuador database: Chamaedorea pinnitafrons. The image on that page is somewhat broken, but if you click on the area where it is supposed to be, you'll witness another image of a male inflorescence. The fact sheet, in addition to providing details on morphology and distribution (seemingly limited to South America, so that's a bit of a discrepancy), also provides a list of Spanish, Siona and Cofán common names.

2 Comments

That's a cool plant picture.

As always, getting my daily plant fix on BPotD!

I had no idea about the thrips and the insect-induced wind pollination. Thank you for the write-up.

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