Flowers as sensory billboards: progress towards an integrated understanding of floral advertisement

Curr Opin Plant Biol. 2004 Aug;7(4):434-40. doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2004.05.010.


This paper explores the landscape of integrated sensory signals that are produced by flowers, and the contextual information that modulates pollinator responses to such signals. Chiloglottis orchids are pollinated by mimicking the pheromone and posture of female thynnine wasps, but floral height provides the context within which male wasps respond to these signals. The odor and appearance of carrion attract blowflies to Helicodiceros inflorescences, but flies are more likely to enter the floral chamber when heat is present as a contextual cue. Finally, fragrance, UV-visual cues and echo fingerprints are redundant signals that Glossophaga bats can use to find flowers, depending on prior experience and the photic environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chiroptera / physiology
  • Female
  • Flowers / anatomy & histology
  • Flowers / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Molecular Mimicry
  • Orchidaceae / anatomy & histology
  • Orchidaceae / metabolism
  • Orchidaceae / physiology*
  • Sex Attractants / metabolism
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal
  • Wasps / physiology


  • Sex Attractants