BACKGROUND: Obtaining an optimal flower temperature can be crucial for plant reproduction because temperature mediates flower growth and development, pollen and ovule viability, and influences pollinator visitation. The thermal ecology of flowers is an exciting, yet understudied field of plant biology.
SCOPE: This review focuses on several attributes that modify exogenous heat absorption and retention in flowers. We discuss how flower shape, orientation, heliotropic movements, pubescence, coloration, opening-closing movements and endogenous heating contribute to the thermal balance of flowers. Whenever the data are available, we provide quantitative estimates of how these floral attributes contribute to heating of the flower, and ultimately plant fitness.
OUTLOOK: Future research should establish form-function relationships between floral phenotypes and temperature, determine the fitness effects of the floral microclimate, and identify broad ecological correlates with heat capture mechanisms.