Floral visitation of the invasive stinking ash in western suburban Chicago
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Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science. 101(1&2): 1-12.
Ailanthus altissima (the stinking ash) is an invasive tree that has spread to most states in the continental U.S. No formal study has yet documented the Ailanthus pollination ecology. We observed the insects visiting Ailanthus at four sites in a western suburb of Chicago over several weeks during the summer. Numerous insects visited the flowers, with flies and bees most common, though there was significant heterogeneity among sites in the composition of the local pollinator assemblage. Over half of the pollen carried on the legs of large bees was similar to the Ailanthus morphotype pollen. These results suggest generalist pollination mediated by geographically wide-spread insect vectors, which would facilitate range expansion. Moreover, the reliance on both bees and flies may help explain the species’ preference for disturbed sites and its ability to expand into northern latitudes. Ants also were frequent floral visitors and potential symbionts, though they are unlikely pollinators of this dioecious species.
Aldrich, Preston R.; Brusa, Anthony; Heinz, Cheryl A.; Greer, Gary K.; Huebner, Cynthia. 2008. Floral visitation of the invasive stinking ash in western suburban Chicago