Stanhopea Pollination

Edited 20 January 2008
© Nina Rach

Euglossine bee photo, Guatemala

Stanhopeas and other related genera, such as Gongoras, are pollinated by male euglossine bees.

Printed References:

Sydney A. Cameron (Jan. 2004) "PHYLOGENY AND BIOLOGY OF NEOTROPICAL ORCHID BEES (EUGLOSSINI)," in: Annual Review of Entomology 49: 377-404.
Abstract: "Orchid bees (Euglossini), noted for their brilliant iridescence, are elusive pollinators throughout the American tropics. Males are especially important in the pollination of some orchids, from which they collect aromatic fragrances thought to play a role in territorial display and courtship. The tribe contains approximately 190 described species divided among five genera, distributed from Mexico to central Argentina. Relatively intense study of their biology in the 1960s through the mid-1980s shed light on their nesting biology, chemical ecology, and classification. Vigorous taxonomic research led to the naming of many new species, revisions, and checklists, but phylogenetic studies were scarce. In the two decades following the last comprehensive review, phylogenetic research has resulted in new hypotheses of generic relationships, and further examination of male display has led to additional interpretations. Females in natural and artificial nesting cavities have revealed social interactions and additional details of parasitism within the nest. This review emphasizes areas in need of more study, particularly phylogeny, phylogeography, chemosensory ecology, and comparative behavior, and highlights how historical context can guide future research."
First published online as a Review in Advance on September 2, 2003.
Author's contact information: Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801; email:

M.A. Dix and M.W. Dix (2003) "Polinización de orquídeas en Guatemala: Los polinizadores, el estado natural de sus poblacioes y las implicaciones para las especies polinizadas [Pollinization of orchids in Guatemala: The pollinators, the natural state of his poblacioes and the implications for the pollinated species]," in: Lankesteriana 7: 97.

Robert L. Dressler (1966) "Observations on orchids and euglossine bees in Panama and Costa Rica," in: Rev. Biol. Trop.

R. Schmid (1969) "The pollination of Polycycnis barbata (Stanhopeinae) by the euglossine bee Eulaema speciosa," in: Orchid Digest 33: 220-223.

William Louis Stern (July-Aug 2001) "Savoury Stanhopeas," in: The Orchid Review 109(1240): 235-237. [Explains the source of stanhopea perfume; color photos of Stanhopea tricornis with euglossine bee; Stan. panamensis hypochile; Stan. wardii]

Athayde Tonhasca, Jacquelyn L. Blackmer, and Gilberto S. Albuquerque (2002) "Abundance and Diversity of Euglossine Bees in the Fragmented Landscape of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest," in: Biotropica 34(3):416-422.
Abstract: "Male euglossine bees were sampled with chemical baits every two months from September 1997 to July 1999 at nine sites in the Desengano mountain range, Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Four sites were located in Atlantic Forest mature second growth, two sites in disturbed forest, and three sites in forest fragments of 200, 156, and 14 ha, respectively. We collected 3653 male euglossine bees from at least 21 species. Analyses of variance indicated no differences among the three habitat types for total number of bees, and 5 of the 6 dominant species. Bootstrapping indicated significant variation in species richness and diversity for some sites, but there was no clear indication of differences among habitats. Similarity as measured with the Morisita–Horn index was inversely related to distance between sites, but relatively high for most site combinations. These results suggest that the euglossine bee community in the three habitats was essentially the same. Although some species were associated with each habitat type, most appeared to respond to temporal local conditions. Our results do not support the hypothesis that forest fragmentation or habitat alteration reduces abundance and diversity of euglossine bees."

W. Mark Whitten (1985) "Variation in floral fragrances and pollinators in the Gongora quinquenervis (Orchidaceae) complex in central Panama." Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville.

W. Mark Whitten (in prep.) "Composition of fragrances of orchids pollinated by male euglossine bees," to be submitted to: J. Chemical Ecology, ca. 25 pp. [Chemical analyses of ca. 350 species of orchids; comparison of chemistry of different pollination syndromes.]

W. Mark Whitten A.M. Young, and Norris H. Williams (1989) "Function of glandular secretions in fragrance collection by male euglossine bees (Apidae: Euglossini)," in: J. Chem. Ecology 15: 1285-1295.

W. Mark Whitten and Norris H. Williams (1992) "Floral fragrances of Stanhopea (Orchidaceae)," in: Lindleyana 7: 130-153.

W. Mark Whitten, A.M. Young, and D.L. Stern (1993) "Non-floral sources of chemicals that attract male euglossine bees," in: J. Chemical Ecology 19: 3017-3027.

Norris H. Williams (1982) "The biology of orchids and euglossine bees," in: J. Arditti (ed.), Orchid Biology, Reviews and Perspectives, II, pp. 119-171. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.
[Acineta; Cirrhaea; Gongora; Houlletia; Lacaena; Peristeria; Polycycnis; Schlimia; Sievekingia; Stanhopea annulata, candida, cirrhata, connata, costaricensis, ecornuta, embreei, florida, frymirei, gibbosa, grandiflora, impressa, jenishiana, oculata, reichenbachiana, saccata, tigrina, tricornis, wardii, warscewicziana]

Norris H. Williams and W. Mark Whitten (1982) "Identification of floral fragrance components of Stanhopea embreei and attraction of its pollinator to synthetic fragrance compounds," in: Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 51: 1262-1266.

Norris H. Williams and W. Mark Whitten (1983) "Orchid floral fragrances and male euglossine bees: Methods and advances in the last sesquidecade," in: Biological Bull. 164: 355-395.

Norris H. Williams and W. Mark Whitten (Aug. 1999) "Molecular phylogeny and floral fragrances of male euglossine bee-pollinated orchids: A study of Stanhopea (Orchidaceae)," in: Plant Species Biology 14(2): 129-136. [Stanhopea __; Embreea rodigasiana]
Abstract: "A molecular phylogeny was estimated for 23 species of the genus Stanhopea and its sister taxon the monotypic Embreea (Orchidaceae) using the internally transcribed spacer regions-1 and -2 (ITS). We compared the molecular phylogeny with data on floral fragrances and pollination biology. In a few instances, the fragrance data reflected the molecular phylogeny of some of the species groups, but for the most part, fragrance data were homoplasious and not reliable indicators of phylogeny as determined from the independently derived molecular data set."

Web References:

International Plant Names Index [IPNI]

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