Thursday, March 5, 2009

Aspidistra punctata

Genus Aspidistra Ker-Gawl. (Liliaceae)
Aspidistra is an east Asian genus distributed from Eastern India, Indochina, China and Japan. It was previously reported that only 10 species were in the genus in late 1970s. However, it was later revised that at least 93 species are described and it is estimated that there should be about 200 to 300 species in Aspidistra. It was greatly under-estimated in the past because it was used to be ignored by the field botanists. It is definitely not easy to identify them if it is not flowering.

The Aspidistra bears a bell-shaped flowers closed to the ground which was thought to be pollinated by slugs. However, scientists later found that slugs are of no interest in the flowers but prey on the snails. Amphipods were observed to be the prominent pollinators of the species, A. elatior. It was found consuming the pollens stored inside the flowers, and hopping to another flowers.

Between the disc-like stigma and the corolla, there are several narrow poles, through which the amphipods gain access to the stamen. The stigma then acts as a block to rain and other flower-damaging arthropods, and as a gate for the selected pollinators. Aspidistra shows an interesting and spectacular floral-pollinator relationship.

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