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This is a discussion on Something a bit different ... ant plants within the The Jungle forums, part of the Land Plants category; Back in late September/early October friend of mine introduced me to an acquaintance of his ...
Back in late September/early October friend of mine introduced me to an acquaintance of his at a conservatory. As a result, we got to do a bit of a "behind the scenes" wandering about while we talked. We came upon an area devoted to the gent's interests -- ant plants. As we talked about them, he seemed quite surprised and pleased that I knew a bit about them. Upon leaving he bestowed a few seeds upon me. I planted them and they germinated without any issue about two weeks after planting. Little buggers are just NOW -- 8 months later -- finally forming their first set of true leaves. (Makes orchids look down right speedy.) That's a 3in (7.5cm) pot they are in by the way.
Recently stopped by to visit that friend of mine and he had something for me that his acquaintance asked be given to me. This is a two year old ant plant and though it still has a long way to go, it is downright HUGE compared to my little seedlings.
Oh and for those who might wonder just what an ant plant is ... These are a Family of epiphytic plants that have a symbiotic relationship (meaning both species benefit) with species of minute arboreal ant species. As the plant grows, tunnels and canals develop inside the trunk/caudex with openings to the outside. The ants colonize these tunnels and thereby gain a home in the trees without having to carve them out of wood or making the incredibly long trek to the ground to dig one out. In return, the plant receives some nutrients from the ants' feces and also gains protection from a number of herbivorous creatures as the ants are VERY protective of their home, attacking anything they perceive as threat to their plant.
wow 2 years and you got this tree.how tall for tree and how long it take to become a big tree?
That's interesting. Thanks for posting that.
Never read of these before. Very cool!
Ha! As I read, I thought of myrmecophylas which have a similar simbiotic relation with ants. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.
LOL No, Kitty. I did not grow this plant up to this size. An acquaintance did so and it only recently came into my possession so I cannot take any credit for its current size. As far as becoming a "big tree" ... the answer is never. These types of plants will max out at the height of a medium to standard size cattleya (more likely the medium sized).
There are however, a large number of different types of plants that also have a similar relationship with ants -- and some of them are trees. The most well known are some of the species of Acacia trees. These trees have enlarged thorns which house ants and the tree even provides some food for the ants. Again, the ants involved are extremely protective of their tree and will attack just about any insect or even larger animal that tries to feed on their tree. The ants have even been observed to prune away vines that try to attach themselves to their tree.
Yes, indeed, Carmen. As far as I know, Myrmecophila is the only genus of orchids that has a similar relationship with ants. This relationship likely explains why members of this genus have such long flower spikes -- only way to lesson the odds of the pollinator getting attacked or driven away by the ants.
When I was little we had an ant tree in the yard. It was a black locust that was home to a large number of black carpenter ants. It was situated near the house and occasionally a few ants found their way inside, but it didn't bother us. Sometimes you would see small heaps of sawdust so apparently the ants were excavating. When the house was sold the new owners had the tree removed.
cool, like the caudex form