Narcissus longispathus



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Narcissus longispathus is a perennial herb endemic to a few mountain ranges in southeastern Spain. This large flowered daffodil (corolla length around 50 mm) commonly produces a single flower per inflorescence and is self-compatible, producing equivalent amounts of seed following experimental self- and cross-pollinations. In the Sierra de Cazorla mountains, N. longispathus is represented by scattered populations confined to stream margins or poorly drained meadows around springs at 1000–1500 m. Despite its small geographical range, N. longispathus is characterized by high levels of genetic diversity and extensive genetic diversification among populations (read this for more details).

Leaves and floral scapes start to emerge from underground bulbs in late February. Each bulb produces one scape generally bearing a single hermaphroditic, long-lived flower with a pale yellow, tubular perianth about 45 mm long and 25 mm wide at its opening. Flowering occurs from late February to mid-April, a period characterized by cool, rainy weather that frequently limits the activity of the species’ main pollinator, the small bee Andrena bicolor (Andrenidae). Despite infrequent pollinator visitation, most flowers of N. longispathus are pollinated and seed production is only weakly pollen limited. Individual N. longispathus flowers last for 17 days on average, remaining functional during this period. On sunny days, the air inside flowers is significantly warmer than outside. Mean temperature excess inside flowers can be as high as 8C. The favorable microclimate within the flowers, their long duration, and the thermal biology of A. bicolor, which can forage at low flight muscle temperatures, are critical elements in this early-season pollination system (click here for details).

Flowers of N. longispathus are self-compatible, but spontaneous selfing occurs infrequently (< 2% of flowers within pollinator exclosures set fruit). The species has a mixed mating system producing significant amounts of both outcrossed and selfed seed (see here). After flowering, the large corolla withers and remains firmly attached to the developing ovary until it is shed in early June, shortly before fruit dehiscence and seed release. Flowers and developing fruits are often eaten by larvae of Trigonophora flammea (Lepidoptera, Noctuidae). Flowers are also frequently eaten by beetles, mainly Tropinota squalida.

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