Asclepias, Lantana and Epidendrum: a floral mimicry complex?
It has been suggested that Asclepias curassavica, Lantana camara and Epidendrum radicans, three unrelated tropical plants with very similar flowers, comprise a floral mimcry complex. Asclepias and Lantana are presumed to be Mullerian mimics of each other while the nectarless Epidendrum is thought to be a Batesian mimic of the first two. Although the 3 species have overlapping ranges and share insect pollinators, visitation frequencies in stands of different floral composition do not support this hypothesis. Flowers in high-density stands of the "Mullerian mimics" are not visited more often than flowers in low-density stands, so apparent increase in population density through mimicry does not appear to confer an advantage. The "Batesian mimic" is not visited more often when interspersed with the model than when alone. Other possible reasons for the resemblance are discussed.Author