Who is pollinating Claytonia in California?! pt. I

I have been thinking a lot lately about pollination biology in the tuberous perennial species of Claytonia, which often have flowers the size of a penny or even larger. What are they pollinated by? It is said that these flowers are often not open for very long, maybe two or three days sometimes, but that they can be visited by a variety of pollinators while open…

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Thanks to Scott Eliason (credit above picture), Botanist on the San Bernardino National Forest, we are beginning to gather some clues about who is pollinating Claytonia in the San Bernardino Mountains. The insect visiting the Claytonia flower above is a Bristle Fly (Tachinidae). Note also that there is a brown Leafhopper (Cicadellidae) perched nearby.

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Pictured above is my first pollinator observation for the tuberous perennial Claytonia in the southern Sierra Nevada, a couple of soft-winged flower beetles (Melyridae). One of my collaborators, Dr. Emile Fiesler, President of Bioveyda-Innoveyda and member of the North American Dipterists Society, suggests these beetles are among the most productive of pollinators! I hope Emile and I can make more pollinator observations next year for some of the other new species of Claytonia I will be describing soon!!!

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