Zoophily and nectar-robbing by sunbirds in Gardenia latifolia Ait. (Rubiaceae)

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A.J. Solomon Raju
S. Sravan Kumar
L. Kala Grace
K. Punny
Tebese Peter Raliengoane
K. Prathyusha


Gardenia latifolia is a semi-deciduous tree species which blooms during the dry season. Its flowers are hermaphroditic, strongly fragrant, nectariferous, and specialized with a narrow corolla tube and concealed deep seated nectar. Thrips act as resident pollinators while bats and carpenter bees act as non-resident pollinators.  Sunbirds act as nectar robbers and have no role in pollination.  The flowers are milky white and fragrant on  days 1 and 2; they cease fragrance and change color to golden yellow on day 3. Bats visit newly open, day 1 fragrant flowers for pollen collection while thrips use day 1 and day 2 flowers. Carpenter bees and sunbirds visit only day 2 flowers. The flower visiting activity of all these foragers indicates that they do not visit non-fragrant, golden yellow colored flowers although they possess nectar. Fruit is an indehiscent berry with seeds placed in pulp inside; the birds are the most likely seed dispersal agents when they break the pericarp and feed on the fruit pulp.

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