Pollination Biology of Hydrangea macrophylla

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  • 1 Floral and Nursery Plants Research Unit, U.S. National Arboretum, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Tennessee State University Otis L. Floyd Nursery Research Center, 472 Cadillac Lane, McMinnville, TN 37110

Little information is available on the reproductive behavior of Hydrangea macrophylla (Thunb. Ex J.A. Murr.) Ser. The objectives of this study were to investigate time of stigma receptivity, viability of pollen from sterile flowers, and self-incompatibility in this popular ornamental shrub. Pollen germination and pollen tube growth in styles were examined using fluorescence microscopy. Stigma receptivity was examined in cross-pollinations made from 1 day before anthesis to 8 days after anthesis. Maximum stigma receptivity for the two cultivars examined occurred from anthesis to 4 days after anthesis. Viability of pollen from sterile flowers was evaluated through pollen staining and observations of pollen tube growth. No significant difference in percent stainable pollen between fertile and sterile flowers was observed in any of the six taxa examined. Pollen germination and pollen tube growth were studied in cross-pollinations made using pollen from fertile and sterile flowers of two cultivars. For both cultivars, pollen tubes from fertile and sterile flowers grew to the same length and had entered ovules by 72 hours after pollination. Self-incompatibility was evaluated by comparing pollen germination and pollen tube growth in cross- and self-pollinations. In the five taxa examined, self pollen tubes were significantly shorter than cross pollen tubes in flowers that were examined 72 hours after pollination. This finding indicates the presence of a gametophytic self-incompatibility system in H. macrophylla.

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