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  Fw: 'Ant gardens/aroids!
From: "Julius Boos" ju-bo at email.msn.com> on 2001.09.11 at 21:51:00(7462)
----- Original Message -----
To: Multiple recipients of list AROID-L
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,


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