The consequences of monoecy and protogyny for mating in wind-pollinated Carex

Jannice Friedman, Spencer C.H. Barrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


• Monoecy and protogyny are widespread in wind-pollinated plants and have been interpreted as outcrossing mechanisms, though few studies have investigated their function. Carex, a large genus of anemophilous herbs, is predominantly monoecious and many species are protogynous. We investigated whether monoecy and protogyny limit self-pollination in seven Carex species. • We conducted field experiments comparing stigmatic pollen loads and seed set between intact and emasculated stems. We tested for self-compatibility and evaluated pollen limitation of seed set by supplemental pollination. Finally, we measured outcrossing rates in open-pollinated and emasculated stems using allozyme markers. • Emasculated stems captured significantly less pollen than open-pollinated stems and set less seed. Pollen deposition during the female-only phase for intact stems was only 12% of the total captured. Outcrossing rates for three species indicated high selfing (range t = 0.03-0.39). Allozyme loci in the remaining species were monomorphic also suggesting high selfing. These results demonstrate that neither monoecy nor protogyny is particularly effective at limiting self-fertilization. • Selection for the avoidance of selfing is unlikely to maintain monoecy in many Carex species although protogyny may provide limited opportunities for outcrossing. We propose that geitonogamy in self-compatible wind-pollinated species with unisexual flowers may be widespread and provides reproductive assurance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)489-497
Number of pages9
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cyperaceae
  • Dicliny
  • Geitonogamy
  • Monoecy
  • Protogyny
  • Wind pollination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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