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Everything posted by Frank

  1. Hi David, Spider mites can be irritating! Seems like sometimes they just explode onto the scene. After a while you learn to anticipate them, like when humidity drops with the seasons. If your collection is small enough spraying the entirety of every plant with water from a spray bottle on a daily or almost daily basis can be useful. With a larger collection in a confined area biological control with predatory mites can be very effective. This worked very well for me a number of years ago when I was growing on two 4-shelf light carts in a 9 foot square foot plastic tent in my basement. The tent had a humidifier in it for humidity but I still had a big spider mite problem. I bought 10 packets of predatory mites sold at that time as Thripex by Koppert Biologicals. They are for thrips but also eat spider mites. I laid one packet on each shelf and went several years without any serious spider mite problems. I take it Koppert now has other products that are better for spider mites because they no longer are recommending Thripex for spider mites as they did back then. It also looks to me like they reformulated the Thripex product. Koppert may no longer sell direct but they have a number of distributors. Here is a link to lots of suppliers of biologicals in North America. Sorry for the NorthAmericancentric reply here, but it is where I live and what I know about. Plenty of room here oh "members of the ant-plant nation", so please tell us how you control spider mites where you live.
  2. In early November of 2014 I received a small seedling of Squamellaria imberbis from Vanua Levu, Fiji. It had no true leaves yet, only the two cotyledons. I failed to take a photo of it until mid-December of 2014 by which time it had several true leaves and only one cotyledon was still attached. From that time on it seemed to grow more quickly than any other Rubiaceous ant-plant that I have ever raised. This is what it looked like in August of 2015 growing upright in a three inch pot. At this point I wanted to switch it to growing sideways, more like they grow in habitat. So I mounted it thru a tree fern slab attached by screws to the open end of an 8 inch basket that I filled with an epiphyte growing mix and hung sideways on a wall. A year later, August of 2016, it was firmly attached in the basket and had grown considerably. Notice in this photo the rather limited number of golden hairs/projections on the caudex. This is when it started to make flowers and continued with those for about 4 months. The caudex made significant strides during that flowering period and this is what it looks like now, in May of 2017 – larger in size and with many more of the golden hairs/projections. I am waiting anxiously for it to take on the black, rugby ball look and shape! (Sorry, I could not get this image to rotate 90 degrees clockwise) As to the flowers: a total of about 30 opened during that late 2016 flowering period. For about the first 10 flowers I could find no pollen in the flowers but an ovary with a healthy looking stigma was present in all the flowers. After that I started finding pollen – maybe mostly because I started looking at the right time of day - Jay had put me on to looking about 10 am for pollen. There were lots of ants in the flowers. The ants in my collection are a small (2 mm long) species of Cardiocondyle ants, not the Philidris ants that occupy the plants on Fiji. No fruits were forming. The Cardiocondyle ants were apparently not getting the job done. Then one day I had two flowers open at the same time (this was the only time that happened) so I grabbed a camel hair brush and moved pollen between the two flowers. This was successful and two fruits started to form. As the plant was flowering I tried using the biological key in the Chromicki Squamellaria article to verify the identification of the plant - but with no success. The problem was at the #7 couplet where I was unable to convince myself that I was seeing the squamella inside the petal tube. The squamella are four small scales that are in a ring near the bottom of the petal tube. At about the same time I took a weekend workshop on DNA sequencing as used in identifying organisms and establishing taxonomic relationships. So I took a leaf of this Squamellaria plant into the workshop and they used it in their demonstrations. They isolated, multiplied and prepared the DNA for sequencing and a few weeks later sent me the results after they compared it with DNA sequences in the online Genebank. It was a match for the DNA sequence of Squamellaria imberbis in Chromicki’s paper. If we could only identify all of our plants this way!!!!! For it to be S. imberbis the squamella have to be present. So I went back to my flower photos and found two squamella in this photo. Look carefully at the tips of the arrows. The spuamella are very thin and light in color. As to the fruits. A few weeks after I discovered the fruits it was obvious they were not the same shape as the fruit photos Andreas has posted here on the forum. When the fruits ripened (a dirty orange color) the reason for the misshappened fruit was clear – my fruits had only one seed each in them instead of the expected 4. I need to work on my pollen brushing techniques! Happily both of the seeds have germinated. So Squamellaria imberbis plants are self-fertile. From sometime in January to mid-April, 2017 the plant took a breather and did not do much. In April new flower buds started to form slowly and in greater numbers than the first year of flowering. Last week I had two flowers open the same day and moved pollen between them – hoping this time to get full four-seeded fruits. I had another pair open today and did hand pollination again. Too early to tell if either of these pollination attempts have succeeded. This has been a very interesting and fast growing species.
  3. Hey Jay, nice flower photos you have here. My S. guppyanum is getting ready to bloom. The inflorescence has gotten to the point where it is starting to branch. No flowers have opened yet. I came here to see what the male flowers look like - as you know I am hoping for female flowers on my plant. When I looked at my plant yesterday it had a yellow body at the first branching point in the inflorescence - the same as in your photo above. I did not look at it closely - I just wrote it off as a blasted bud. But seeing your plant here with the same thing made me wonder if maybe it is an extra-floral nectery. We now know that some of the Squamellarias go out of their way to feed the ants per one of Guillaume Chromicki's recent papers. Have you examined the yellow bodies and do you have any thoughts on them? I obviously will have a closer look at the one on my plant when I get back to the greenhouse on Monday.
  4. Hi Akihiro, Welcome to the forum. That is a great habitat shot of Lecanopteris balgooyi. The thick spines replacing some of the fronds is something I like very much but the plants would not do that for me back when I grew these. I was not very successful growing this species - the rhizome growing tip would always grow up and off of the growing media for me. I am not clear why you do not think this is L. balgooyi? Here is the description of balgooyi from Flora Malesiana, Series 2, Vol. 3, 1998, page 64. It says the sori are "in a single row on each side of the rachis or costae, to 7 on each pinna" . That is what I see on your habitat photo of the sporophyll. I will admit to some confusion about this when I first looked at google images of L. balgooyi sporophylls. Those photos (probably of plants in cultivation) show sporophylls that have complete margins or with only a little pinnatification of the frond. The Flora Malesiana description allows for this saying the fronds are "entire to pinnatifid". So I think better growing conditions in habitat are responsible for the different look of the sporophyll in your photo compared to google cultivated plant photos of balgooyi sporophylls..
  5. Hi Robert, nice plant! You are not worried that the pole was treated with chemicals? Who is IML?
  6. I have a few thoughts to share on this 'armata' business. Just because a plant is from Borneo does not mean it is an 'armata'. Look at the map I posted above in this thread. It plots the location of all the Myrmecodia tuberosa variant plants that Huxley and Jebb cite in their revision of Myrmecodia. You can see that two other of their variants are found on Borneo -'apoensis' and 'bracteata' The descriptions of those three variants seems to indicate that 'armata' is best recognized by the fact that they have "10 to 15 pairs of lateral veins in each leaf that are straight and parallel over most of their length". Robert's plant in his Feb. 27, 2017 post above certainly looks to have those kinds of veins in its upper left leaf. Any plant from Bogor National Park, Sabah, or Sarawak on Borneo cannot be 'armatas' because 'armata' is only further south on the island than those places are.
  7. Jeff, I use chopped long fiber sphagnum to plant seeds on and for the seedlings community pots. Once I start to pot the plants individually I use an epiphyte mix that includes: chopped long-fiber sphagnum, perlite, coconut husk chunks (soaked overnight 3 times and rinsed to remove salt), small fir bark pieces, charcoal and some inert clay balls or chips. I loose some seedlings, especially at first transplant into individual pots - but not what I would call "a lot of mortality"
  8. Your plants are looking great Todd! I am using the T5 High Output 6500 bulbs and have become concerned that my plant's leaves look washed out - too yellowish green for my liking. Your photos here show a deeper green color to the leaves. Are the leaves actually this deeper green color or is the color because your camera's picture taking is being influenced by the color of the light? I can get the T5 HO 6500 bulbs for less than $5 a bulb. A quick look on google makes it look something like $20 each for UVB, 420nm, and 460nm bulbs. When you start running multiple fixtures that extra money adds up fast. You really think it is worth that much? What do you look for as to useful life time for the UVB bulbs?
  9. Thanks for pointing out my error Jay, I have corrected my post
  10. Ah, Jay, I don't feel so "esteemed" when I see how much better you grow my plants than I do!........laughing!!.. Great plant and great photo! I concur from my plants that this species flowers and fruits in January, February and March here in the Northern hemisphere with a few sporadic fruits other times of the year. Those of you growing this below the equator - what say you on their flowering season? For a number of years I found it rather disconcerting that this species is actively loosing leaves at the exact time it is reproducing. Thought I was growing them wrong. Seems like this would be a time you would want to keep maximum photosynthetic surface area so you could maximize seed production? When I first started growing Rubiaceous ant-plants I assumed they would grow year-round because they come from so close to the equator. The reality for me growing here at 42 degrees N latitude is that most do their best growing in the summer with some pushing either way into spring or fall. Only H. puffii is clearly a vigorous winter grower and reproducer for me.
  11. No, I just use tap water
  12. I get some moss growing on the media but no particular problem with rot. I keep the ventilation ports open and if I want less humidity I can blow a small fan over the ports or put the dome top onto the tray a little crooked so there is a gap on the bottom on one or two sides of a fraction of an inch.
  13. Hi Jean-Michel, Some of us are having very good results using plastic domes on 11 inch by 21 inch plastic trays under blue T5 fluorescent bulbs. The domes are 7-1/2 inches tall and designed to fit on the top of the trays. The domes have ventilation ports in the top. Two of these domed trays fit just swell under a four foot light fixture. The tray and dome are both inexpensive and here in the USA we can buy them in stores that sell supplies to hydroponic growers.
  14. The taxonomy and nomenclature of the genus Hydnophytum have not been revised since the early 1900s so there has been plenty of time for naming errors to creep in and get propagated along with the plants. One persistent mistake is misidentifying plants of Hydnophytum formicarum and Hydnophytum moseleyanum. When I say H. moseleyanum I am referring to a complex of 6 or 7 closely related species that all look very similar to H. moseleyanum. These related species include: H. loranthifolium, papuanum, crassifolium, longistylum and philippinense. It is likely that most of these will get lumped together into H. moseleyanum in the revision of the genus that is currently being prepared in Europe. Hydnophytum formicarum is a widespread species and shows considerable variation in some traits, including plant size and the nature of the caudex The best way to tell Hydnophytum formicarum and moseleyanum plants apart is with leaf shape. leaf texture and leaf veins. Hydnophytum formicarum leaves have a normal to leathery texture. H. moseleyanum leaves are somewhat to quite succulent. The three leaves on the left are from H. formicarums. The three leaves on the right are typical H. moseleyanum leaves. This photo is of the lower leaf surfaces. Notice the differences in leaf shapes and the veins. On older H. moseleyanum leaves, like these, the veins are almost impossible to see on the lower surface of the leaves. This next photo is a close-up view (upper leaf surface) of Hydnophytum formicarum on the left and H. moseleyanum on the right to get a better comparison of the veins. Notice the important fact that H. formicarum leaves have 6 to 12 pairs of veins on each leaf while H. moseleyanum leaves have only 3 or 4 pairs of veins on each leaf. Young plants are easier to tell apart because of the obvious ridges on the caudex on many (but not all) forms of H. formicarum. Hydnophytum moseleyanum types never have ridges on young plants. The two plants on the left are Hydnophytum formicarums and the two pots on the right are Hydnophytum moseleyanums. Notice also that the caudex on young Hydnophytum formicarum plants tends to be quite flat whereas the caudex on Hydnophytum moseleyanum plants gets taller right from the start.
  15. Jay, you wrote the above quote. Where is the photo by Todd that you are talking about? Also, let me add some useful information about the H formicarum from Merlin Sy that Jay calls the "Pumpkin". I got seeds of this same species from Merlin in October of 2006, and he provided this information with the seeds: "from a mountain range in Quezon Province, on the Island of Luzon in the Philippines"
  16. 2017 FORUM DONORS Thank you very much to these people whose donations of $20 USD have funded the forum for one month in 2017. January, Frank Omilian February, Ursula Wistuba March, Christopher Mallett April, Todd Kramer May, Jay Vannini June, Shimi July, Andreas Wistuba August, Andreas Wistuba September, Andreas Wistuba October, Jordan Ives November, Jay Vannini December, Want to join the list of contributors?. If so, please send me, (Frank Omilian, forum administrator) $20 US by paypal to with the “note” line saying “forum”. All contributions will be acknowledged here by name (or let me know if you prefer to be acknowledged as “anonymous”). Thank you for your support.
  17. Hi Todd, I think Jay is going to end up confirming that that was my mistake in my email to you. I think Jay has used Philippine dwarf to mean the plant he also calls "shoe caudex"
  18. The recent two day hiatus of this forum was caused by the transfer of forum ownership to me, Frank Omilian, from its founder Dr. Andreas Wistuba. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to Andreas for establishing this forum. We also need to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions of a number of individuals who have shared their photos, taxonomic insights, cultural notes, research and other information here. It is this treasure trove of ant-plant information that has motivated me to take over the forum at Andreas’s suggestion. This material is too good and too important to disappear from the internet. So my goal here is to insure the long term availability of the important information posted here. Since money to support forums seeps oh-so-slowly from people’s pockets I want to explore moving to an advertising supported forum. Many eyes are better than two so if you have suggestions as to advertising supported forums that are easy on the eye and smooth running please let me know. You can post them to this thread or to me personally by the personal message feature on this forum or to my email, These are exciting times in the world of ant-plants – the new young gun, Guillaume Chomicki is pushing the taxonomy, exciting new species are being discovered and new species are coming into cultivation. This forum is moving forward with this wave and I hope you all continue to participate and contribute.
  19. Thank you for all the private and public input and support you have provided. My stated goal here was to provide long term stability for this forum so as to keep all the fantastic information and photos that exist here available to the world. I also want this stability to encourage the providers of such important information the confidence to keep posting here. Please, all of you, continue to share your information, insights and photos. To provide this stability I am keeping the forum with Invision for the coming year, but at a reduced rate of $20 per month. We will also be getting a software update to their latest version. I have been assured by Invision that this upgrade will not result in any loss of our photos or data. During this year I will continue to explore other options for the future, including a no-fee advertising based forum. I will say that, so far, no acceptable ones have been brought to my attention. Your continuing input is appreciated. Given the new lower monthly fee some of you may want to contribute towards our existence. If so, please send me $20 US by paypal to with the “note” line saying “forum”. All contributions will be acknowledged here by name (or let me know if you prefer to be acknowledged as “anonymous”) . 2017 CONTRIBUTORS TO THE FORUM: January Frank Omilian February, Ursula Wistuba March, Christopher Mallett April, Todd Kramer May, Jay Vannini June, Shimi July, Andreas Wistuba August, Andreas Wistuba September, Andreas Wistuba October, November, December, Thank you very much to all the donors!!!
  20. Great stuff Jay! So well grown as usual, and very nice photos. The only one I have grown is M. brunei. I concur that it likes humidity and warmth. I also make sure it has air movement around it. I got that from an article by the American Fern Society about the culture of these plants (specifically on page 15). Here is a link to that article: I also discovered that for me, I get much better production of the tubers when I give the plants more light, when I have the plants close to my fluorescent bulbs. While I do get ants moving into my Rubiaceous ant-plants once they get large enough and into at least a few of my Lecanopteris ant-ferns I have never had ants move into the M. brunei tubers. Do you have ants in your M. brunei or bismarckii tubers Jay?
  21. Just published, The article is available here:
  22. Hi Lolo T, I have had some success treating tuber rot on Rubiaceous ant-plants with powdered sulfur. It helps a lot to catch the infection early before it has spread excessively. I use a butter knife or some metal tool that I can sterilize with a stove flame to scrape out the rotted sections of the caudex. With that removed I shake a liberal amount of powdered sulfur onto the infected area. (My container of sulfur was sold in a garden store for dusting rose bushes.) Be sure to read the health issues and precautions on the sulfur container. I do the dusting outdoors and with a mask on to avoid breathing the sulfur. I keep the treated part of the plant totally dry for months afterwards and watch if some parts may need to be retreated.
  23. Great photos Jay and thanks for putting in the time and work to make these observations for the record - thus amending what the original description of H. kajewskii says about fruit color at maturity. Kudos too for growing these plants so well and getting them to reproduce so quickly! Considering how robustly you grow the plants do you have any hypothesis as to why habitat seed would be bigger than your seeds formed in cultivation? Perhaps just the fact that this is the first flowering year for both your plants? Great stuff Jay, Frank