Thrips pollination of androdioecious Castilla elastica (Moraceae) in a seasonal tropical forest

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Androdioecy is a rare sexual system in nature, as predicted theoretically. Among the androecious species reported so far, Castilla elastica (Moraceae) is unique in that flowers are unisexual and staminate and pistillate flowers on cosexual plants are produced on different inflorescences. In addition, inflorescence structure of staminate inflorescences on males and staminate and pistillate inflorescences on cosexes is markedly different. Staminate inflorescences on males are bivalvate, while staminate inflorescences on cosexes are “fig-like” and urceolate. Pistillate inflorescences are discoidal. The difference may reflect different roles and requirements of the three inflorescences in pollination and protection from herbivores. This study reports thrips pollination of C. elastica, demonstrated by a pollinator introduction experiment. Thrips pollination of the species may be an example of mutualism originating from plant–herbivore interactions. In the Moraceae, shifts from simple herbivores on flowers to pollinators might have occurred many times, evolving into diverse pollination systems including the fig–fig wasp mutualism. The family, of which little is known about pollination systems, provides interesting and unique opportunities to study evolution of pollination systems and roles of nonpollinating associates of inflorescences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1534
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Botany
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2001

User-Defined Keywords

  • androdioecy
  • inflorescence structure
  • Moraceae
  • Panama
  • pollination
  • thrips


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