Observations on flower visitors to Bertholletia excelsa H.B.K. and Couratari tenuicarpa A.C. Sm. (Lecythidaceae)

Β. W. Nelson Μ. L. Absy Ε. Μ. Barbosa G. Τ. Prance About the authors

Bees visiting flowers of Bertholletia excelsa. (Brazil Nut tree) and Couratari tenuicarpa were collected, their behavior described and the pollen found clinging to their dorsal thorax and stored on their legs was identified. Female bees of Xylocopa frontalis(Olivier) and males of Eulaema mocsaryi (Friese) are apparently effective pollinators of Couratari in igapó near Manaus. Female bees of Euplusia seabrai Moure in litt., Epicharis umbraculata (Fabricius), Epicharis rustica (Olivier) and Eulaema nigrita(Lepeletier), as well as male bees of Eulaema cingulata(Fabricius) and Eulaema nigrita are apparently effective pollinators of adult Brazil Nut trees in the Aleixo plantation near Manaus. Only large bees capable of uncurling the floral androecium can effectively pollinate Couratari or Bertholletia.

Pollen analysis indicated that all bees captured carried pollen of the host tree in question and had been foraging on flowers of plant species common in secondary growth. Secondary growth near the Aleixo plantation supports a bee guild which appeared to effectively pollinate almost every flower on the Brazil Nut tree studied. Proximity to primary forest (and to those Euglossine bee species which occur only in primary forest) therefore does not appear to be necessary for pollination of Brazil Nut trees.

In the Aleixo plantation chronic low fruit set is probably due to some factor other than pollination. Since natural occurrences of Brazil Nut trees to the north and south of Manaus are associated with a higher soil fertility, low production at the Aleixo plantation may be due to deficiencies of the soil.

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