Pollination biology of Lilium japonicum var. abeanum and var. japonicum: Evidence of adaptation to the different availability of diurnal and nocturnal pollinators

Shizuka Yokota, Tetsukazu Yahara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)


Floral traits such as color and size are highly diversified in lilies, but their adaptive significance remains uncertain. In the present study, we compared pollination processes between Lilium japonicum var. abeanum and var. japonicum to clarify how the two varieties are adapted to different pollinators. Lilium japonicum var. japonicum is known to be pollinated by moths, and we hypothesized from its flower traits that var. abeanum is pollinated by diurnal insects. Using waterproof digital cameras set to a recording interval of 10-30s, we recorded flower visitors for 7-9 flowers of var. japonicum and 4-6 flowers of var. abeanum over 24-h periods. We also recorded the number of versatile (T-shaped) and rigid (I-shaped) anthers per flower. For var. abeanum, we observed flowers at 05.00 and 17.00hours to determine flower opening time and measured the intensity of floral scent using a metal-oxide semi-conductor odor sensor. Both diurnal and nocturnal insects visited flowers of the two varieties, but visitation of diurnal insects was more frequent in var. abeanum. Anthers of var. abeanum are usually rigid, as in many bee-pollinated flowers, whereas those of var. japonicum are mostly versatile. Although flowers of var. japonicum are known to open in the evening, 32% of the flowers of var. abeanum started to flower during the day. Lilium japonicum var. abeanum emitted scent at night, with a maximum intensity at 20.00hours, just as in var. japonicum. These findings suggest that the floral traits of the two varieties are adapted to the different relative availabilities of nocturnal versus diurnal pollinators. The flower of var. abeanum is more adapted to diurnal pollinators, but retains adaptations to nocturnal pollinators, particularly with regard to its scent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-105
Number of pages10
JournalPlant Species Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2012


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science

Cite this