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Re: Philodendron sagittifolium at female anthesis!

  • Subject: Re: Philodendron sagittifolium at female anthesis!
  • From: <ju-bo@msn.com>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Jun 2008 12:49:33 +0000

> Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2008 23:20:47 -0500
> From: Thomas.Croat@mobot.org
> To: aroid-l@gizmoworks.com
> Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Philodendron sagittifolium at female anthesis!
Dear Steve,

Once more I`ll tout Deni Bown`s fantastic book whice we all should own and read!---"Aroids, plants of the Arum Family".
She fully explains the purpose of this resin which is produced on the spadix, and seems unique to the genus Philodendron.  She report on this resin on pg. 215, and goes on lower down on the page to discuss the nectaries which occur on many aroids on the surface of the spathe, or on the peduncles, bases of some species leaves, etc. and, as Dr. Croat explained, act as ant attractants when they produce a sweet liquid.   I have observed this on Urospatha, as in Florida we have a very small red ant which is slow and almost invisible, but which stings like hell, and can really spoil your day.   They used to LOVE this nectar produced by these very special glands on my Urospathas, and I have been stung by them many times when I did not take note of their presence on a bloom!
As a side note concerning these nectaries which also occur on many other genera of plants, and to illustrate one of the MANY things which I have observed over the years (too many years!) which have kept my interest (no, my obsession) with nature at the level it has been throughout my life, I offer the following story--
On my very first day in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest, I admit that I was somewhat ''underwhelmed'', as I was born and raised in Trinidad, W.I., and on seeing this zone in E. Ecuador, I commented to the Ecuadorian oilfield engineer I was working with that were it not for the different species of Cecropia trees around us, I would think I was in the Morouga or Rio Claro roads back "home'' in Trinidad!   My mention of Cecropia trees keyed him to the fact that I knew something about Botany, and he confessed to me that he too was a plant ''nut'', and he warned that we must be careful NOT to let that info. out, as the Company was NOT friendly toward ''tree huggers''!
He then asked me if I had ever heard ants ''talk''---I replied-- ''right!!   talking ants--what`s next, flying monkeys??"   He walked my smart- commenting self over to a barbed wire fence on the side of the dirt road, the posts of which were ''living fence posts'' made by sticking fresh-cut limbs of a Eurithrina (spelling?)  sp. tree into the soil, where they lived and grew, with the barbed wire nailed into them.  Their canopy tops were kept trimmed into an attractive ball (dead wooden posts were QUICKLY consumed by termites!!).   He then VERY carefully showed me that some HUGE ants, +1 ", were on the limbs and petioles of the leaves on these ''fence posts'', these  ants were the dreaded and feared ''congas'' (also called ''una bala'' or ''one bullet'' ants in Cen. America), the largest Ponerine stinging ant in S. and Central America.   I was certainly impressed at my very first sighting of these most impressive insects, and asked Mario --"and you say that these ants ''talk"?   He instructed me to place my head and ear close to (but not TOO close!) any ant.   Low and behold, I then heard the beautiful (to me!) sounds of tiny squeaks and twerps, like one would expect from tiny birds or rodents, but NOT from ants!
To come back to nectaries, I was then able to show Mario that these huge ants were activly guarding the foliage of these fence posts against all browsers because of the presence of the large nectaries which we saw at the base of every leaf, and we could see the ants collecting and feeding on liquid being produced within the tiny ''cups'' of these organs!   Knowing of the usually carnivorous diet of these ants (we have a smaller species on Trinidad), he and I began to catch grass hoppers, and offered them to individual ants on the tip of a LONG palm spine.
These large insects were eargarly accepted by the ant, and a quick sting killed the grasshopper, which was quickly dismembered by several ants, and the parts carried down the tree/post and into the below-ground nest of these dangerous but oh-so-interesting ants.
So-- Yes, Virginia, there ARE talking ants!
Thanks for your indulgence.

> Steve:  I commented on the dots before seeing the pictures.  I thought you were talking about he dots on the petioles. The dots on the spadix are from an accumulation of resin.  The resin gets on the beetles and makes them sticky so that when they leave they can carry away the pollen which otherwise won’t stick to their bodies.
> Tom
> ________________________________
> From: aroid-l-bounces@gizmoworks.com [mailto:aroid-l-bounces@gizmoworks.com] On Behalf Of ExoticRainforest
> Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 10:01 PM
> To: Discussion of aroids
> Subject: [Aroid-l] Philodendron sagittifolium at female anthesis!
> Someone tell me what is happening!
> This spathe of Philodendron sagittifolium opened this morning.  There is a second right beside it opening tonight.  These photos were taken at 9:30PM local time.  There is a slight smell of mint to the pheromone and if your hand is in front of the spathe, but not touching, you can feel the thermogenetic heat.  The red dots were not there this afternoon, but are clearly visible now.  I have no idea what these are!  Julius, Leland, Dr. Croat, anyone who knows!  What are these, what is the purpose?  Obviously no female flowers appear evident yet but I'll likely be up much of the night!
> Steve Lucas
> www.ExoticRainforest.com
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