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  Re: [aroid-l] From Peru
From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at msn.com> on 2002.08.22 at 23:41:00(9270)
Dear Jorge and Dr. Barton,

I am NOT an 'expert' in this field, but have read and observed quite a bit
on pollination of Araceae, and will try to help w/ a few commnets.
Pollination of the genus Philodendron, Monstera (and Dieffenbachia) are
reported to be pollinated by scarab beetles mainly of the genus
Cyclocephalla and other closely related genera. Many other insects may be
discovered associated with and attracted to the scent of the open flower,
but the actual 'job' of pollination is reported to be by these scarab
beetles. I believe the same genus of scrab also pollinates Xanthosoma and
Caladium, as I collected many beetles of this genus in blooms of Xanthosoma
sps. while I worked in Ecuador, both on the E. and W. side of the Andes.
During the Aroid Symposium held at MOBOT a few years ago, Sue Thompson and
another Gentleman (for the life of me I can not recall his name, sorry!)
gave most interesting talks on this subject, and both cautioned on
assumptions made when insects just happened to be found in association with
a bloom, many slides were shown illustrating this, and the pollen seems to
have evolved to suit a very specific insect. Other insects just take
advantage of an available food source, eating the 'bait' provided by some
genera, in the case of Xanthosoma some of the sterile flowers, others
(non-pollinators) eating and destroying the female flowers, thus actually
perventing seed development. We were shown photos of the damage some
beetles do to the blooms of aroids by burrowing through the spathe tube
limb to reach this rich food 'reward', but they do nothing to assist the
plant in pollination. Lots of close observation will be needed, as in some
cases a VERY specific beetle/insect may be required, for example on Trinidad
MANY Caladiums (mainly C. bicolor) are found blooming in the wild, yet not
once have we discovered a developing infructesence. It is suspected that
this plant may have been introduced to Trinidad by pre-Colombian man and the
specific pollenator is not present. It could be that lots more
observation is needed and a plant in fruit may yet be located. On the
other hand some other aroids do not seem to need a specific pollinator, as
my plants of Urospatha, Dracontium and Dracontioides were pollinated by
insects that occur here in W.P.B., Florida. In some cases no pollination
is required for the plant to produce viable seed, Anthurium gracille and
other closely related species do this with no pollination.
I hope tha above may serve as a 'beginners guide', comments and discussion
are most welcome!!.
Jorge, if you have more than one blooming plant of Xanthosoma,
hand-pollination is easy and seed can be produced by this method.


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