Global analysis of floral longevity reveals latitudinal gradients and biotic and abiotic correlates

Bo Song*, Lu Sun, Spencer C. H. Barrett, Angela T. Moles, Ya-Huang Luo, Scott Armbruster, Yong-Qian Gao, Shuang Zhang, Zhi-Qiang Zhang, Hang Sun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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The length of time a flower remains open and functional – floral longevity – governs important reproductive processes influencing pollination and mating and varies considerably among angiosperm species. However, little is known about large-scale biogeographic patterns and the correlates of floral longevity.
Using published data on floral longevity from 818 angiosperm species in 134 families and 472 locations worldwide, we present the first global quantification of the latitudinal pattern of floral longevity and the relationships between floral longevity and a range of biotic and abiotic factors.
Floral longevity exhibited a significant phylogenetic signal, and was longer at higher latitudes in both northern and southern hemispheres, even after accounting for elevation. This latitudinal variation was associated with several biotic and abiotic variables. The mean temperature of the flowering season had the highest predictive power for floral longevity, followed by pollen number per flower. Surprisingly, compatibility status, flower size, pollination mode, and growth form had no significant effects on flower longevity.
Our results suggest that physiological processes associated with floral maintenance play a key role in explaining latitudinal variation in floral longevity across global ecosystems, with potential implications for floral longevity under global climate change and species distributions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2054-2065
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number5
Early online date25 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • flower lifespan
  • global climate change
  • latitudinal variation
  • pollen limitation
  • pollinator guilds
  • pollinator reliability
  • mating systems


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