ANT PLANTS

by Penrith Goff, S.E.Michigan Bromeliad Society

 


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"Conifer Wildlife Habitat: Arboretum de Concord - Conifers from around the World grown in Michigan"


   The course of daily living (and dying). Plants which offer ants a haven and benefit from the ants’ refushe ants in the rain forests, in their desire to enjoy the advantages of high-rise living (fewer anteaters!), have worked out arrangements with a number of real estate owners in the tree canopy to share unused living space in return for whatever they, the ants, leave behind in te are called myrmecophilic (mir-ME-co-PHIL-ic), i.e. “ant-friendly”). 

   Some of these are epiphytic plants which develop a large caudex, a swollen base, in which the ants can tunnel.  Certain species of Schomburgkia orchids have large hollow pseudobulbs at the base of their leaves which are much in demand by ants.  Among the bromeliads it is the  “bulbous” tillandsias which are most ant-friendly. They look like they form a bulb but actually the spoon-shaped leaf-base forms a hollow space.  

  
Tillandsia seleriana, T. caput-medusae, T. streptophylla, T. ehlersiana, and T. pruinosa have soft succulent leaves. Ants can easily nibble an opening into the ample space between the leaves. The plants can absorb through their leaves whatever nutrients the ants leave behind.  Incidentally Neoregelia mymecophylla, a typical neoregelia with an open rosette, was given its name because ants apparently like to build nests near it.  But if there actually is a symbiotic relationship between ants and the neoregelia, it is not clear what it is.
  

   

 

 

 



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