Background Flower coloration is a key enabler for pollinator attraction. Floral visual signals comprise several components that are generated by specific anatomical structures and pigmentation, and often have different functions in pollinator attraction. Anatomical studies have advanced our understanding of the optical properties of flowers, and evidence from behavioural experiments has elucidated the biological relevance of different components of floral visual signals, but these two lines of research are often considered independently.
Scope Here, we review current knowledge about different aspects of the floral visual signals, their anatomical and optical properties, and their functional significance in plant-pollinator visual signalling. We discuss common aspects, such as chromatic and achromatic contrast, hue, saturation and brightness, as well as less common types of visual signals, including gloss, fluorescence, polarization and iridescence in the context of salience of floral colour signals and their evolution, and highlight promising avenues for future research.