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Reproductive biology

Persoonia species have small, inconspicuous yellow flowers that are typically pollinated by bees

Unlike other Proteaceae species such as Banksias, Waratahs and Grevilleas that have large, showy inflorescences that are typically pollinated by vertebrates, Persoonia species have small, inconspicuous yellow flowers that are typically pollinated by bees.

Notably, native Leioproctus bees are the most common pollinator of both rare and common Persoonia species in eastern Australia. The European Honeybee (Apis mellifera) is also a frequent visitor to Persoonia flowers but its effectiveness as a pollinator relative to native bees is uncertain. Other native bees known to visit Persoonia flowers include Tetragonula, Exoneura, Megachile, Amegilla and Xylocopa. We have also observed beetles, ants and wasps visiting flowers, but these insects appear to eat pollen grains rather than pollinate multiple flowers.

We have conducted experimental hand pollinations on two threatened Persoonia species and both have a breeding system that preferences out-crossing. That is, significantly more fruits are produced when flowers are pollinated with pollen from another plant. This type of breeding system is very common in Persoonia and highlights their reliance on bees for reproduction and additional plants nearby.