Pollination ecology of the Gray Nicker Caesalpinia crista (Caesalpiniaceae) a mangrove associate at Coringa Mangrove Forest, Andhra Pradesh, India

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P.S. Raju
A.J.S.. Raju


Caesalpinia crista L., commanly known as Gray Nicker, is an oligohaline mangrove associate confined to landward marginal areas of the Coringa Mangrove Forest, Andhra Pradesh, India. The flowering occurs during the wet season from June to November. The flowers are hermaphroditic, self-compatible and exhibit a mixed breeding system. The floral characteristics that constitute melittophilous pollination syndrome include diurnal anthesis, slight fragrance, zygomorphy, yellow petals, with a flag petal displaying a conspicuous nectar guide, and the presence of nectar with a high sugar concentration. Extra-floral nectar along the rachis is an additional attractant and is easily perceivable by bees. The plant is pollinated almost exclusively by bees, especially carpenter bees. The floral characteristics such as free petals, fully exposed stamens with dry and powdery pollen grains and hairy stigma facilitate anemophily which is effective due to high winds during the rainy season. The prolific growth and near synchronous flowering at population level contribute to pollen availability in huge quantities and enable anemophily as an effective mode of pollination. The functionality of melittophily and anemophily together constitutes ambophily. Hand-pollination experiments indicated that the plant is principally out-crossing. The natural fruit set does not exceed 10%; this lowest percentage could be partly due to flower-feeding by the beetle, Mylabris phalerata. The fruits are indehiscent, 1-seeded, which are buoyant and are not dispersed far away from the parental sites. The viable seeds produce new plants in the vicinity of parental plants during the rainy season. This plant builds up its population as small patches or in pure stands and hence is important in building landward mangrove cover.

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