We studied the breeding system and flower visitors of White River penstemon, a rare endemic from the Uintah Basin of eastern Utah and western Colorado. Bagging treatments and hand-pollination treatments showed that Penstemon scariosus var. albifluvis has a mixed mating system: while some seeds and fruits are produced through self-pollination (both autogamy and geitonogamy), significantly more are produced when flowers are cross-pollinated. The primary flower visitors, and likely pollinators, were several species of native twig- and ground-nesting bees in the families Apidae, Halictidae, and Megachilidae. We found no differences in fruit or seed production between open-pollinated controls and hand-outcrossed flowers, suggesting that pollinator visits were sufficient to maximize female reproductive success. Management plans to conserve White River penstemon must recognize that full reproductive success of this rare plant taxon relies on a suite of pollinating bees, and that the species richness and abundances of bee visitors should be maintained.
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Vol. 67 • No. 2