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Hand pollination to increase seed-set of red helleborine Cephalanthera rubra in the Chiltern Hills, Buckinghamshire, England

By R. D. Newman, A. J. Showler, M. C. Harvey and D. A. Showler

Abstract

In 2007 and in previous years, as part of ongoing attempts to improve red helleborine Cephalanthera rubra seed-set, hand pollination of florets has been undertaken at a small colony of this species in Buckinghamshire, southern England. Natural pollination rarely occurs (one mature pod recorded in 10 years) at this site. In 2007, hand pollination resulted in the production of four seed pods, of which one withered and died. Upon ripening, the three remaining pods were removed for attempted micropropagation of the seeds. Ongoing conservation management has probably benefited the solitary bee Chelostoma campanularum which now appears fairly plentiful at the site, but despite the presence of this red helleborine flower visitor, natural pollination remains virtually unrecorded at this locality; field observations suggest that C.campanularum is in fact probably not large enough to act as an effective red helleborine pollinator as it can slip in and out of the flowers without removing the pollinia, unlike it larger relative C.fuliginosum, absent from the UK but which is a known pollinator of red helleborine in continental Europe

Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:oro.open.ac.uk:12276
Provided by: Open Research Online

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