Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Flowering phenology, nectary structure and breeding system in Corymborkis flava (Spiranthoideae : Tropidieae), a terrestrial orchid from a Neotropical forest

Milene Faria Vieira A C , Maria Regina S. Andrade , Nelson S. Bittencourt Jr B and Rita M. de Carvalho-Okano A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Departamento de Biologia Vegetal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, 36570-000 Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

B Departamento de Zoologia e Botânica, IBILCE, UNESP, Rua Cristóvão Colombo 2265, 15054-000 São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil.

C Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Botany 55(6) 635-642
Submitted: 19 September 2006  Accepted: 15 May 2007   Published: 27 September 2007


Flowering phenology, breeding system and nectary structure of Corymborkis flava (Sw.) Kuntze were studied in a fragment of the Atlantic Forest in south-eastern Brazil. The flowering period extended from March (end of rainy season) to early June and seed dispersal occurred from June to September (dry season). Flowering peak occurred mainly in April, with up to 34 open flowers per plant being observed. The yellow, odourless and tubular flowers lasted ~7.8 days. The flowers present a perigonal nectary located in the basal lateral parts of the labellum; this is the first report on the nectary location and characterisation in the Tropidieae tribe. At the pre-anthesis stage, cells of both secretory parenchyma and epidermis of the nectary are filled with compound amyloplasts. However, starch grains were not observed in these tissues in senescent flowers, indicating that these starch grains are hydrolysed and used as source of sugars for nectar production. The nectar accumulates between the cuticle and the outer periclinal wall of the epidermal cells before flowing out into the nectar chamber. C. flava is a self-compatible species and spontaneous self-pollination does not occur because of hercogamy. The high pollinia removal (0.80) and insertion (0.82) per flower, as well as the high natural fruit-set indicate an efficient natural pollination system. The present study contributes for the knowledge of the diversity of reproductive strategies and nectary structures in Orchidaceae.


We thank Dr Sonia Maria Oliani (Laboratory of Morphology, Department of Biology, IBILCE, UNESP) for kindly allowing the use of the digital photomicrography equipment. This research was part of the Master’s thesis of the second author at the Department of Plant Biology of the Universidade Federal de Viçosa.


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