Passerine Pollination of Rhodoleia championii (Hamamelidaceae) in Subtropical China

Lei Gu, Zhonglai Luo, Dianxiang Zhang, Susanne S. Renner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The pollination ecology and breeding system of the Hamamelidaceae tree species Rhodoleia championii were studied in an evergreen broad-leaved forest in Nankunshan National Forest in Guangdong Province in China. Rhodoleia championii produces lipid-rich pollen grains and dilute nectar (averaging 0.7 mL/d and 9% sugar), with nectar production peaking before 0800 h; the species is self-incompatible and does not set seed asexually. Seven species of nectar-foraging birds visited the inflorescences, with the most common visitors being Japanese white-eyes (Zosterops japonicus, Zosteropidae) and fork-tailed sunbirds (Aethopyga christinae, Nectariniidae). Bumblebees and honeybees played limited roles as pollinators. As documented by fossils from Europe, the Rhodoleia stem lineage dates back at least to the Paleocene. Bird pollination, however, is unlikely to have evolved before the Oligocene when sunbirds arrived in Europe, and pollination by Z. japonicus cannot be much older than 250,000 million years ago, when Z. japonicus diverged from its closest relative.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-341
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2010


  • Aethopyga christinae
  • Bird pollination
  • European cretaceous fossils
  • Hamamelidaceae
  • Nectar-feeding passerines
  • Zosterops japonicus


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