Breeding system and pollination ecology of a potentially invasive alien Clematis vitalba L. in Ireland.
Aims: Invasive alien plants can greatly affect native communities and ecosystem processes but only a small fraction of alien plant species become invasive. Barriers to establishment and invasion include reproductive limitations. Clematis vitalba L. has been a popular horticultural species for the past century and is widely distributed and can be highly invasive. In Ireland, it is considered naturalized and potentially invasive. Despite this, little is known about its reproductive biology. Method. We carried out manipulative field experiments in Ireland and compared fruit and seed set from a number of pollination treatments, namely cross-pollination, geitonogamy, autogamy and natural pollination. We also recorded floral visitation to C. vitalba through a series of timed observations. Important Findings: We found that C. vitalba is capable of uniparental reproduction via geitonogamy and autonomous selfing, albeit at a reduced rate compared with outcrossing treatments. Clematis vitalba was visited by at least 10 native pollinator taxa, with hoverflies dominating visitation. Neither fruit set nor seed set in our study population was pollen limited. Given the lack of reproductive constraint, C. vitalba may easily spread in suitable habitats. This is of concern in Ireland, given its prevalence in some of the country's most floristically diverse regions.