Re: A question primarily for our esteemed experts and botanists!
- Subject: Re: A question primarily for our esteemed experts and botanists!
- From: Theodore Held <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2010 13:02:47 -0400
Most plants with leaves have the ability to redistribute nutrients to
other tissues as those older leaves become senile. The redistribution
is not complete, however. I have figures for this, but I think it runs
about 50% or so being reabsorbed, the balance remaining locked in the
old leaf tissue.
Of course, then the old stuff falls off and the decomposers come into
play. Eventually these will get all the rest of the goodies out and
make them into tissues of the decomposers.
What this means is that there is a small amount of material available
to epiphytes that does not involve parasitism of the host plant. Since
80% or so of terrestrial plants form micorrhizal associations with
microorganisms (mainly fungi) around their roots, one is probably safe
to assume that the decomposing mats of vegetable matter lodged in tree
crotches yield part of their nitrogen and other nutrients through the
microrrhizal organisms to the epiphytes in return for certain sugars
and other compounds exuded by the roots of the epiphytes and absorbed
in turn by the microorganisms. This is true symbiosis.
Mycorhizzal associations are triggered in nutrient-poor environments.
If epiphytes are adequately nourished they tend to treat micorhizzal
organisms as enemies.
The bark material probably contains very little nitrogen by itself,
mainly consisting of structural polysaccharides like cellulose and
lignin. Not very nutritious, I expect. Of course there will be goodies
in the conductive tree tissues deeper within. But then the feeding
plants would be parasites and not epiphytes.
There is also a possible dimension, especially in wet forests, where
some microorganisms, such as blue-green algae, also act as nitrogen
fixers. This means that they manufacture "fixed" nitrogen (as ammonia,
nitrates, and nitrites) from the air. This mechanism is a huge source
of nitrogen fertilizer in bodies or water (like the ocean). But maybe
this can happen also on a wet tree limb. There are other nitrogen
fixers throughout the biosphere. Maybe those contribute to the ecology
of rain forests. All these guys release their fixed nitrogen when they
die. It takes a few cycles for it to return to atmospheric nitrogen
On Mon, Sep 6, 2010 at 12:09 AM, ExoticRainforest
> Anyone is welcome to chime in on this but I have come up with a small theory
> I can neither prove nor discredit. Is this possible?
> I recently read a short piece about the bark of trees in the rain forest
> being capable of storing nitrogen. In fact, I have read many times that the
> trees in the forest suck up the majority of the nutrients created as
> leaves, other trees, burned trees and animal debris fall to the ground and
> decompose. If this is so then is it possible that hemiepiphytic and well as
> epithetic species climb not only to reach brighter light but also in order
> to leach some quantity of fertilizer (nitrogen) from the trees themselves?
> Is it possible other mineral can be sucked from the tree by all the roots
> that grasp the tree's trunk? For those that may not be aware, an epiphyte
> and hemispheric species are plants that live attached to trees. These types
> of species are very common in the aroid group.
> To me this makes sense but I want to have it scientifically confirmed or
> denied before I add any of this info to my own published works.
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