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Fw: Fw: 'Ant gardens/aroids!

  • Subject: Fw: Fw: 'Ant gardens/aroids!
  • From: "Julius Boos" <ju-bo@email.msn.com>
  • Date: Tue, 11 Sep 2001 16:51:00 -0500 (CDT)

----- Original Message -----
From: Julius Boos <ju-bo@email.msn.com>
To: <aroid-l@mobot.org>
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 4:01 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: 'Self-heading' Philodendrons/fruit..

----- Original Message -----
From: Eduardo Goncalves <edggon@hotmail.com>
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L <aroid-l@mobot.org>
Sent: Monday, September 10, 2001 11:13 AM
Subject: Re: Fw: 'Self-heading' Philodendrons/fruit..

Dear Eduardo,

Thank you for sharing this wonderful knowledge w/ the list, I do hope that
somewhere a young researcher (perhaps you!?) is 'squirreling away' this
invaluable information which he or she may be able to use sometime in the
Here in 'sunny' Florida the sun available does not approach the amount of
sun that Philodendrons and other aroids tollerate and are able to thrive in,
I would have to build a plant shelf on top of my house which would give me 8
or 9 hours of sun, but nothing like the sun that shines on these plants in
their home ranges!   I will have to enjoy the green leaves of my wonderful
P. saxicolum without the sun-caused 'blue' cast!
You know, I was 'searching', 'reaching' for something, anything that would
or could substain the moisture and nutrient needs of a seedling aroid high
in the canopy, a species such as P. goeldii or P. solemoesense, and one
possibility I thought of would have been a clump of bromileads, but I
believe that you have hit the nail on the head, as it were, with your
information about the 'ant gardens'!   I have seen these (and have been
badly stung by the very agressive ants!) in Fr. Guyana and in the jungles of
Trinidad while climbing to collect tree boas (Corallus) and orchids,
especially Catasetum and Gongora sps., these plus some species of bromileads
and others germinate in the aboreal ant nests, and the nests provide a
close-to-perfect habitat with both germinating medium/'soil', nutrients from
the ant`s garbage of dead insects, etc. and moisture for the seedling
plants, allowing Philodendrons that germinate there the time to send their
roots down to tap into the forest floor for the additional water and
nutrients that would be needed by a plant as it grew and became larger!
It bears us considering if some species of ant do not actually collect the
fruit and seed of some aroids and 'plant' these seeds in their nests after
using the rich fruit as food, I believe that this 'behavior' has in fact
been recorded with species of Pepreomia and Gesneriaceae, so why not
Araceae?    So we must also consider the possibility that ants may also be
one of the distributors of aroid seeds!
That the word for stinging ant and climbing aroid is the same in one of the
indigenous people`s languages is a fantastic fact, one that we should record
and not ignore!
I agree fully that the role of bats in the distribution of Aroid
infructesences and seeds probably has been generally underestimated and even
ignored, and to me they are the PERFECT animal to distribute the seeds of
say P. leal-costae from one plant growing in a bromilead 'cup' to another
fairly distant bromilead within the spiney, protected bromilead habitat, the
bats digestion is very fast, so a bat may pass seeds through it`s gut and
out in 1/2 hour, and as I said in a previous note, it may then  drop seeds
into a bromilead during the same feeding flight while searching for and
feeding on the ripening fruit of P. leal-costae during its fruiting season!
I would think that monkeys and marsupials may play the same role but to a
lesser extent, they would not be as far ranging, some birds may also prove
to be important feeders on and distributors of Aroid fruit and seeds.   LOTS
more observation in the field is urgently needed to confirm this.

It would be so good if any of the other young researchers of Aroids in South
America mentioned by Dr. Thomas Croat in the recent wonderful news letter
could or would join in discussions like this one on Aroid-l, their
experiences and opinions would be invaluable to all of us, are any of you
out there perhaps in Colombia, Ecuador, or any other friends in Brazil
reading this, and will you please drop us a line on aroid-L??

Eduardo, thanks again for taking a few minutes of your limited and valuable
time to share with us your broad knowledge and  your passion for Aroids.

The best of luck to you,


>>Dear Julius,

    Well, I only have seen and collected P. saxicolum somewhat far from the
coast, in Bahia state. It usually grows together with Anthurium affine,
always in full (I mean FULL) sunlight! Plants growing in half-shade are
never bluish (it is almost a rule in sun-lovers aroids). Try to give some
sunlight to your plant.
    Another interesting aspect is that, in Amazonia (and probably the same
in French Guiana), the diversity (and the biomass) of Bromeliads is not so
impressive like it is in Coastal Brazil. However, there is one thing that
can substitute those tanks for aroids seedling: Ant gardens. Ant gardens
usually hold enough humidity for aroid seedlings and I have seen many
different species of aroids germinating on this (from P. solimoesense to P.
goeldii or Anthurium plowmanii). I think that ant gardens are the main
"germinator" of epiphytic and hemiepiphytic aroids in Northern South
America, and there are lots of Gesneriaceae, Peperomia and other plants
growing on it. In fact, a common name for climbing aroids in Brazilian
Aroids is "tracuá", and the same name is used for painfull ants! To the
native people, climbing aroids and ants have the same name! In Coastal
Brazil, ant gardens are not so common, so maybe the massive beds of
Bromeliads may be used more properly. Life finds a way!
    About the monkeys, they vary from small tamarins to whooly monkeys and
capuchins. Marsupials are also known to be "users" of aroid´s
infructescence, but it seems that the importance of bats has been grossly
overlooked in aroid literature.

                                  Very best wishes,


>Dear Eduardo and Donna
>Ed, thank you so much for these great observations and comments!   Most
>interesting stuff!!!!!!
>I am very interested in your comments about another species, P.
>that sometimes takes advantage of the bromilead 'cups' to germinate, and
>then eventually grows out of them when they get too large.   This would
>be a good possibility and a great 'strategy' in other species that are
>growing  high in the canopy, such as P. goeldii and P. solimoesense, we
>observed both species  in the wild in Fr. Guyana, Joep believes that they
>are most often found growing HIGH in the jungle canopy, and only when the
>tree is cut down or falls naturally (from death of the tree or a high wind)
>are these species then found growing in a terrestrial condition as has
>been reported in the literature, we actually saw one huge specimen of
>P. solmoesense growing on the ground near the side of a major road,  and
>Joep remembers when the tree that it used to grow high up in the canopy
>was felled during construction on the road!.
>So as you have pointed out, they most probably start germination in a
>group of bromileads high in the canopy while sending roots down to the
>floor to obtain moisture, meanwhile taking advantage of the trapped water
>in the bromileads over a period of years till they out-grow the bromilead
>and the roots are down to the damp forest floor.    Many people may not
>realise that some of the huge specimens with rhizomes several meters
>long may be well over a hundred years old!!
>I have seed a slide taken somewhere
>in Coastal Brazil of a species of Philodendron growing in and amongst a BIG
>stand or 'wall' of bromileads, it was reported that it did not survive
>conditions.   I am going to try to locate a copy of the slide to try to get
>a positive I.D. of this species, but from MEMORY (and my old memory
>generally is still pretty good!), I THINK it was P. saxicolum, the leaves
>also had that distinctive 'blue' cast to them.   Have you found this
>also growing in association with bromileads??  By the way, my plant of P.
>saxicolum does NOT show this 'blue', do they tend to loose it in
>cultivation, and does anyone know what exactly causes it??
>What species of primates/monkeys may be found in the dry areas where
>P. leal-costae, P. saxicolum and P. adamantiuum occur, perhaps capuchins??
>Drop me a line when you have a moment, I hope that things continue to go
>well for you.

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