Nectar of Ziziphus spina-christi (L.) Willd (Rhamnaceae): Dynamics of Secretion and Potential for Honey Production

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The nectar secretion of Ziziphus flowers was studied by removing and measuring the nectar every four hours, for two consecutive days, from 88 flowers of four trees (‘repeated sampling’). In another 120 flowers from the same trees, the accumulated sugar was measured at the end of the flowering stage. The mass of the nectar sugar was determined following the washing technique. The total amount of sugar per tree was calculated by multiplying the number of flowers per tree by the average mass of nectar sugar secreted per flower. The average mass of sugar produced per flower in repeated sampling was 0.79±0.54 mg/flower (range 0.09 - 2.48 mg). The average mass of sugar per flower for each of the four investigated trees was 1.43±0.53 mg, 0.72±0.27 mg, 0.94±0.39 mg and 0.37±0.26 mg, respectively. The differences among trees was statistically significant. For accumulated nectar, the overall average mass of sugar per flower was 0.55±0.23 mg (range 0.06 - 1.29 mg) and the average values for flowers on the investigated trees of Z. spina-christi were 0.69±0.26 mg, 0.41±0.16 mg, 0.51±0.16 mg and 0.53±0.21 mg; these variations were statistically significant. The average mass of nectar sugar calculated for the flowers with accumulated nectar sampling was significantly lower than the average mass of sugar recorded for repeated nectar sugar samplings (0.79±0.54 mg). According to this study, one Ziziphus tree is estimated to produce 3.6 kg of honey (range 2.2 - 5.2 kg), equivalent to about 900 kg of honey/ha (range 550 - 1300 kg). These figures indicate the high potential value of the plant for honey production. Nectar secretion was positively correlated with temperature, indicating the adaptation of the tree to hot climates.

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