Mice pollinate the Pagoda Lily, Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae) - First field observations with photographic documentation of rodent pollination in South Africa
For the first time in South Africa nocturnal rodent pollination was observed and photographed under natural conditions. In the Northern Cederberg area of the Western Cape field studies and experiments showed that flowers of Whiteheadia bifolia (Hyacinthaceae) are visited at night by rodents, mainly the Namaqua Rock Mouse Aethomys namaquensis. The mice were observed licking nectar while being dusted with pollen and touching the stigmas. No other visitors were observed during the day or night. W. bifolia pollen was found around the snouts and in the faeces of live-trapped mice, the latter likely as a result of grooming their fur, since they visited the flowers without eating or destroying them. W. bifolia has characters of the rodent pollination floral syndrome such as visually inconspicuous, bowl-shaped flowers close to the ground, with stiff stamens as well as easily accessible, very viscous nectar and a weak, slightly sourish-nutty scent. Furthermore, these findings support the hypothesis that pollination syndromes can be used to make testable predictions about floral trait evolution due to pollinator selection. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.