The African violet, Saintpaulia teitensis (Gesneriaceae), is an Eastern Arc global biodiversity hotspot endemic. Forest fragments on the Taita Hills in south-eastern Kenya hold the only known wild populations of this plant. The pollination ecology of S. teitensis was investigated through direct observation. S. teitensis flowers show enantiostyly which may promote xenogamy. Pollinators of this endangered plant species were found to be exclusively wild bee species of the genus Amegilla (Apoidea: Aprocrita: Apidae). Four different species of Amegilla were recorded visiting S. teitensis. Observations of bee floral visitors showed distinctive floral manipulation (buzz pollination) for release of pollen by pollinating bees. Amegilla spp. visiting S. teitensis were observed to feed from other forest-floor plant species (Acanthaceae and Lamiaceae) and on crops in adjacent small-scale mixed agriculture farms. Future conservation and management of this endangered plant needs to take into account the needs and biology of its pollinators.
Pollination Observations of the African Violet in the Taita Hills, Kenya
Publication: Journal of East African Natural History