Experimental hand pollinations of the endangered, Hawaiian, endemic, Gossypium tomentosum Nutt. Ex. (Malvaceae) showed that it was self-compatible, but self-pollination resulted in reduced reproductive output. Field observations and pollen tube analyses using fluorescence microscopy showed that mechanical self-pollination in this species included a mechanism known as bending stigmas. A receptive stigma bent backwards and contacted dehiscent anthers in 7% of flowers found on 17 G. tomentosum plants. The yellow flowers were nectarless and were not visited by most anthophilous insects in situ except for the introduced, nitidulid beetle, Aethina concolor Macleay. Collections and insect GI-tract dissections showed that A. concolor carried and ate the pollen of the host flower. Field observations recorded regular contact between beetles and stigma lobes as these insects exited the flowers effecting self-pollination. Behavioral experiments showed that the beetles responded positively to a yellow visual cue. Under some circumstances, an introduced pollen vector may help maintain a low level of reproductive success in an insular endemic.
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