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Web Ecology An open-access peer-reviewed journal
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Volume 2, issue 1
Web Ecol., 2, 75–82, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-2-75-2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Web Ecol., 2, 75–82, 2001
https://doi.org/10.5194/we-2-75-2001
© Author(s) 2001. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  22 Nov 2001

22 Nov 2001

Irregular flowering patterns in terrestrial orchids: theories vs. empirical data

P. Kindlmann1,* and Z. Balounová2 P. Kindlmann and Z. Balounová
  • 1Faculty of Biological Sciences, Univ. of South Bohemia, Branišovská 31, 37005 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • 2Faculty of Biological Sciences and Faculty of Agriculture, Univ. of South Bohemia, Branišovská 31, 37005 České Budějovice, Czech Republic
  • *now at: Ecologie des populations et communautés, Institut National Agronomique Paris-Grignon, 16 Rue Claude Bernard, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France

Abstract. Empirical data on many species of terrestrial orchids suggest that their between-year flowering pattern is extremely irregular and unpredictable. A long search for the reason has hitherto proved inconclusive. Here we summarise and critically review the hypotheses that were put forward as explanations of this phenomenon: irregular flowering was attributed to costs associated with sexual reproduction, to herbivory, or to the chaotic behaviour of the system represented by difference equations describing growth of the vegetative and reproductive organs. None of these seems to explain fully the events of a transition from flowering one year to sterility or absence the next year. Data on the seasonal growth of leaves and inflorescence of two terrestrial orchid species, Epipactis albensis and Dactylorhiza fuchsii and our previous results are then used here to fill gaps in what has been published until now and to test alternative explanations of the irregular flowering patterns of orchids.

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