Floral Biology of Fluted Pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis Hook. F.)
Knowledge of floral biology is essential to crop improvement. Ten genotypes of fluted pumpkin (Telfairia occidentalis) were observed for floral morphology, phenology and insect visitation for two consecutive years. Functional dioecy of fluted pumpkin was confirmed, whereas none of the studied genotypes was monoecious. Floral structures differed significantly among the genotypes. Both male and female flowers were symmetrical, pentasepalous, fimbriate and non-bright pentapetalous, but male flowers were more numerous. Male inflorescences emerged from 11 to 14 weeks after planting and the female flower buds appeared about 4 weeks later. The flowering period of the male flowers was longer than that of female flowers and both gender flowering periods coincided for a specific interval. It took between 11 to 14 days from bud initiation to anthesis and flowering ceased when there were occurrences of successful fruits set. In both gender flowers petals started unfurling at around 6.00 pm and full bloom was achieved by dawn, while petal shrivelled at sun set (between 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm). The anthers dehisced at anthesis of the male flowers; the pollen grains were whitish and sticky. Only the male flowers have nectar and pollen and this may explain infrequent female flowers visitation. Hover flies (Cheilosia species) were the major floral visitors observed.
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