In many compound and special inflorescences like spadix and hypanthodium there are sterile female flowers along with male and female fertile flowers and are often present in between male and female flowers, but what is their need in an inflorescence?

enter image description here enter image description here

As far as I know inflorescences are meant for perpetuation of a plant's race by pollination of female flowers by the male gametes [pollen grains which bears vegetative and reproductive cells].

I know the infertile female flowers of the spadix inflorescence possess some surface area and this area would get some of the pollen grains which are coming in to the inflorescence, and eventually a sum of pollen grains might go in vain.

What is the need of sterile female flowers when fertile ones are present in it?

  • $\begingroup$ if not the answer can any one suggest me another site where i could find this answer $\endgroup$ Jul 12, 2014 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Sterile flowers enrich pollination quality by promoting pollen export and import, while limiting the mating costs of geitonogamy associated with large fertile displays.

You are actually looking for this paper: Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3523656/

Sterile flowers increase pollinator attraction and promote female success in the Mediterranean herb Leopoldia comosa

Key Results

The presence of sterile flowers almost tripled pollinator attraction, supplementing the positive effect of the number of fertile flowers on the number of bees approaching inflorescences. Although attracted bees visited more flowers on larger inflorescences, the number visited did not additionally depend on the presence of sterile flowers. The presence of sterile flowers improved all aspects of plant performance, the magnitude of plant benefit being context dependent. During weather favourable to pollinators, the presence of sterile flowers increased pollen deposition on stigmas of young flowers, but this difference was not evident in older flowers, probably because of autonomous self-pollination in poorly visited flowers. Total pollen receipt per stigma decreased with increasing fertile display size. In the population with more pollinators, the presence of sterile flowers increased fruit number but not seed set or mass, whereas in the other population sterile flowers enhanced seeds per fruit, but not fruit production. These contrasts are consistent with dissimilar cross-pollination and autonomous self-pollination, coupled with the strong predispersal inbreeding depression exhibited by L. comosa populations.

enter image description here


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .