Pollination and floral biology of Adonis vernalis L. (Ranunculaceae) – a case study of threatened species

Bożena Denisow, Małgorzata Wrzesień, Anna Cwener


Although the knowledge of pollination systems of rare and threatened species is one of the principles for development of optimal conservation and management strategies, the data about their pollination requirements are scarce or incomplete. Different problems are listed (xerothermic habitat disappearance, overgrowing of patches, plant biology i.e., slow plant growth, problems with seed germination) among the possible causes of Adonis vernalis being threatened, but until now no consideration was given to the flowering biology and pollination.

The observations of flowering biology of A. vernalis (Ranunculaceae), a clonal species, were conducted in an out-of-compact-range population, in the Lublin Upland, Poland (51°18'55" N, 22°38'21" E), in 2011–2013. The reproductive potential of A. vernalis is related to the population age structure, pollination syndrome, and breeding system. The flowers exhibit incomplete protogyny. The dichogamy function is supported by different (biological, morphological) mechanisms. Stigma receptivity occurred about one day before anthers started shedding self-pollen, and pollen viability was increasing gradually during the flower life-span (66.3% in distal anthers vs. 77.3% in proximal). The decrease in pollen production and in pollen viability coincided with the lowest degree of seed set, irrespective of the pollination treatment. Pollen vectors are necessary for efficient pollination, as the proportion of pistils setting fruits after open pollination (41–82.1%) was significantly higher compared to spontaneous self-pollination (only 5.5–12.3%). The pollination requirements together with pollen/ovule ratio (P/O = 501) indicate a facultative xenogamous breeding system in A. vernalis. Therefore, in the conditions of the global lack of pollinators, improper pollination may weaken the population by leading to a decrease in the proportion of recombinants, and in addition to other factors, may accelerate extinction of small A. vernalis populations.


Adonis vernalis; self-pollination; open-pollination; pollen; viability; seed set

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5586/asbp.2014.001

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