The north-east-Brazilian liana, Adenocalymna dichilum (Bignoniaceae) pollinated by bats


I Machado
S Vogel

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Annals of Botany


• Background and Aims Of the set of syndromes displayed by specialized (euphilic) flowers, adaptation to pollination by bats (chiropterophily) is the least known. Accumulated new evidence reveals that this pollination mode plays a considerable role in tropical communities, especially in the neotropics. One family in which bat-pollinated species are known in several genera is the Bignoniaceae. Here is reported, for the first time, bat pollination and floral ecology in Adenocalymna dichilum (tribe Bignonieae). • Methods Floral features of this species growing in Bahia (north-east Brazil) indicated possible chiropterophily, which was subsequently confirmed by direct observation and from photographs of bat visits. Timing of anthesis and nectar parameters were monitored in the field, and floral morphology was investigated with fixed flowers. • Key Results One to two flowers open per night on the upright, simple racemes of A. dichilum during several weeks in a ‘steady state’ mode. The bilabiate, cream-coloured corollas are functional for only a single night and wilt during the following day. A stout corolla, with a musky odour, and a large nectary disc with large quantities of watery nectar also conform to the syndrome. Glossophaga soricina (Glossophaginae) visited and pollinated the flowers in a trap-lining manner. Whilst hovering, the bats put their heads into the corolla mouth for less than 1 s to feed, thereby effecting the transfer of pollen which is deposited on their backs. • Conclusions Adenocalymna, a New World genus comprising approx. 50 species, exhibits floral adaptive radiation including species pollinated by bees, birds and possibly moths. The discovery of chiropterophily in A. dichilum adds another facet to the array of floral syndromes represented in the genus.