Generally, floral characteristics and pollination are important factors enhancing the quality and quantity of reproductive output for regeneration in plant conservation. However, lack of evidence-based management could decrease fitness under ex-situ conservation. We investigated the capitulum and pollination characteristics of Eriocaulon heleocharioides Satake (Eriocaulaceae), which is extinct in the wild, to develop an evidence-based conservation management plan incorporating previously ignored reproductive characteristics. To evaluate the functional characteristics of capitula, pollen-ovule ratio, and reproductive status (maximum pollination success/florivory damage) were investigated along six flowering sequences of capitulum. To evaluate the effect of plant density on pollen transfer, high- and low-density plots were established. Total deposited pollen on stigma, insect visitation, and visit duration per capitulum were observed. A significantly lower pollen-ovule ratio was observed in the first of six capitula, reflecting higher female functionality. The highest pollination success was found in the second-fourth capitula, whereas florivory increased along the terminal capitula position. High plant density affected the pollen deposited on stigmas via insect visitation and low pollinator visit duration. Different capitula in E. heleocharioides could have different effects: different sexual functionality, enhancement of reproductive output both in quality and quantity through active pollen transfer, and escaping from florivores. High plant density could facilitate outcross-pollen transfer in E. heleocharioides. Multiple perspectives are important for determining potential reproductive success in ex-situ conservation. Thus, density management reflecting capitulum characteristics could improve the efficiency of conservation efforts for E. heleocharioides.

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