Through evolution, plants and pollinators have adapted physical characteristics which allow them to interact successfully. These characteristics are often referred to as syndromes. “The flower type, shape, color, odor, nectar and structure vary by the type of pollinator that visits them.” Hence the reference to pollination syndromes. This means these characteristics can be used to “predict the type of pollinator that will aid the flower in successful reproduction.” (USFS)
Benefits of Predicting Pollinators
About 80 percent of all plant pollination is by organisms (wildlife). By knowing which syndromes attract which pollinators, farmers, crop growers and gardeners can plan the best combination of plants to make the most of the ecosystem services pollinators provide. Maximizing these ecosystem services allows
- the plant to benefit from the intermixing of pollen from one plant to another to enable successful reproduction, and
- the pollinator to benefit from the food resources it gathers as it travels from one plant to another to enable maximum nutrition.
Table of Pollinator Syndromes
The US Forest Service has put together a table of pollinator syndromes to help identify the potential plants with which pollinators may associate. This helpful chart will assist you in learning which flower traits attract different types of pollinators. See also Pollinator Syndromes by Pollinator Partnership.
See also Pollination.