Abstract The Bignoniaceae possess sensitive bilobate stigmas that close after stimulation. We determined factors involved in stigma closure and reopening in four species of Bignoniaceae from the National Parks of Catimbau, Northeastern Brazil ( Anemopaegma laeve, Arrabidaea limae, Jacaranda rugosa and Tabebuia impetiginosa). The study showed that any mechanical touch promoted the stigmatic closure. Only the deposition of viable con-specific pollen (self- and cross-pollen), however, maintained stigmas permanently closed. In Arrabidaea limae part of the stigmas reopened after self- and cross-pollination. After mechanical stimulation, deposition of pollen from other plant species, of dead con-specific pollen or of sand, the stigma lobes opened again after 38 to 68 min. The definitive closure may have a negative effect on the reproductive success of the involved plants, because the stigmas are permanently unavailable for pollen deposition. In self-incompatible species with mass-flowering blooming pattern, where pollinators promote high levels of geitonogamy, definitive stigma closure causes low fruit set.