Patterns of fruit production in the subdioecious plant Astilbe biternata (Saxifragaceae)

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1. Patterns of fruit production in the subdioecious plant Astilbe biternata were used to test whether sex ratio is correlated with relative fruit production by females and males; whether males that produce large inflorescences also produce proportionally more fruit; whether male fruit production is correlated with habitat type; and whether pollen limitation could affect fruiting. 2. Inflorescence length, a good predictor for flower production, was surveyed along with percentage fruit production and sex ratio in 22 populations from throughout the species range, including eight populations where plants were growing in both roadside and understorey habitats. In one population, the percentage fruit production of males and females was assessed in relation to the distance from to the nearest pollen source. 3. There was significant variation in sex ratios among populations, but this was not correlated with relative (female:male) total fruit production. Fruiting males produced smaller inflorescences than either females or non-fruiting males, and within fruiting males, individuals with large inflorescences produced proportionally fewer fruits than those with small inflorescences. The proportion of males that produced fruit was higher in roadside than understorey habitats whereas all females produced fruit in both habitats. Female, but not male, percentage fruit production decreased with distance from the nearest potential pollen source. 4. Allocation patterns to fruiting differed between males and females. Percentage fruit production declined as inflorescence size increased for both males and females. Astilbe biternata males with a genetic propensity to produce fruit might produce smaller inflorescences, or fruit production might be determined by resource availability within the inflorescence after the inflorescence is produced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-607
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001


  • Dioecy
  • Fruit set
  • Gynodioecy
  • Reproductive compensation
  • Sex allocation


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