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About Frank

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  1. One of the first ant-plants I bought on eBay, back in 2000, arrived with what looked like scale on the undersides of the leaves. The seller assured me it was not scale and encouraged me to look at it with a microscope. Sure enough, they were corky scar tissue that sure looked like scale, but all the scraping of them that I did provided no evidence of living scale insects. I have never heard the phrase "false scale" used for this until this year, 2018. I would like to know where that phrase started?! The most common explanation I have seen over the last 18 years is that the corky scar tissue I described above is the result of wild fluctuations of humidity coupled with excess water available at the roots causing guard cells on the stomata in the epidermis of the leaves to burst and be replaced by corky scar tissue. (for more explanation and photos see the two topics at the bottom of this "Diseases and other Problems" page called "White spots on my ant-plant" and "Leaf scars". More information about this Oedema (edema) and Intumescences can be found in this fact sheet from the University of Massachusetts: https://ag.umass.edu/greenhouse-floriculture/fact-sheets/oedema-intumescences. It concerns Geraniums and also talks about other crops effected by edema. Obviously there is not material written directly about ant-plants and these edema issues as ant-plants are not a multi-million or billion dollar industry like Geraniums and sweet potatoes. Much of the research on edema issues comes out to the University of Kansas and some of it is casting doubt on on the above explanation for certain crops. (this is mentioned in the U. Mass article cited above) A second explanation for the scaring and corky growths is damage from microscopic eriophyid/gall mites. See and read the posting two below this one: "Help, problems with M. armata" for more information on this. Finally let me point out some information specifically about Myrmecodias, Humidity and Intumescences. It is in Chapter 5 of this historic book "Manual of Plant Diseases" from 1922. The Myrmecodia information begins on page 437, but the way it is written will probably require reading more of the chapter to get the full meaning of it. I want to thank a personal contact for leading me to this resource. I hope he will join us on this forum soon and contribute directly to this topic.
  2. Frank


    Given the success of funding the forum in 2017 and 2018 with donations from “we the members” let’s go ahead and do the same thing again in 2019. With our monthly fees to Invision being only $20 it should not “break the bank” for most of us to pitch in and fund a month or two. This small amount is keeping the fabulous photos and information we have accumulated here available to the entire world via the internet. If you want to step up and fund a month, please send me $20 USD by paypal to frankinmi@aol.com with the “note” line saying “forum” and the name you want me to use for you in the chart below (or let me know if you prefer to be acknowledged as “anonymous”). Whether you choose to fund a month or not, please, all of you, continue to share your information, insights and photos in postings to this forum. We are off to a fast start funding 2019 because of the generous donation of an anonymous donor in May of 2018. Please consider making your mark in 2019 by stepping up and funding a month. Thank you, Forum Administrator, Frank Omilian 2019 CONTRIBUTORS TO THE FORUM: January - Anonymous February - Anonymous March - Anonymous April - Frank Omilian May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December - Thank you very much to all the 2017, 2018 and 2019 donors!!!
  3. Frank

    Avonia journal

    Congratulations Derrick but at this time any issues of Avonia after 2014 appear to be available only to members of the German society. And what percent of their content is in some language other than German?
  4. Frank

    Lecanopteris from spores?

    Hi Sromes1, Welcome to the forum! Sorry, I have zero experience growing staghorns - either sporophytes or gametophytes. So I can't really offer any comparisons to growing them as compared to Lecanopteris I thought the propagation of Lecanopteris by spores was way too time consuming for me compared to taking rhizome cuttings. Others here surely have better skills at growing ferns from spores than me and should have better answers for you than me. Frank
  5. Seeds of Squamellaria guppyanum came into cultivation in 2014 and 2015 from the island of Bougainville, just to the northeast of Papua New Guinea. My two seeds were planted on May 1, 2015 and sprouted promptly. The first of them started flowering in July of 2017. S. guppyanum is dioecious. That means each plant has flowers that make only eggs or pollen (which becomes sperm), never both. So, if you want to propagate the species by seed you have to have two plants, one male, making pollen in the stamens and one female, making eggs in an ovary. In dioecious plants both male and female parts may be present in the flower but only the parts of one sex are functional. My first-flowering plant is a female. Here is the flower. It is very small, only about 5 mm across and about 5 mm long. These photos are magnified using a dissecting microscope and a video camera. Besides the petals the only other obvious flower parts visible here are the stamens. These are composed of a stalk (called the filament) with a sac on top of it (called the anther) which actually produces the pollen. The filaments here are just barely visible and are round, thick and silvery looking. The anthers each have several dark strips on them but are flaccid because they contain no pollen. The functioning female parts are hidden within the petal tube. For this second photo I have removed the petals and stamens. All that is left is the functional female parts: the rounded ovary at the bottom, with a short style holding up the two stigmas. The stigmas are sticky and the pollen has to be placed on these by insects who have previously visited a male flower of this plant species and picked up pollen on their bodies. This third photo was taken with a hand-held camera. It is the inflorescence of the female Squamellaria guppyanum plant in the axil of a leaf with one open flower to the left end. Wouldn’t make much of a bouquet for your spouse, would it………laughing….. A number of other developing flower buds are on the inflorescence. My second plant of S. guppyanum produced its first flower on November 30, 2017 and much to my relief it is a male plant. Here are two pictures of that first flower, both again with some degree of magnification. You can see that the anthers have broken open and released pollen grains. The faint white lines you see below the anthers within the petal tube are hairs attached to the inside surface of the petal tube. I used the pollen to hand pollinate 3 female flowers that were open on my female guppyanum plant that morning. I am hoping to see fruits forming in a week or two.
  6. Frank


    Given the success of funding the forum in 2017 with donations from “we the members” let’s go ahead and do the same thing in 2018. With our monthly fees to Invision being only $20 it should not “break the bank” for most of us to pitch in and fund a month or two. This small amount is keeping the fabulous photos and information we have accumulated here available to the entire world via the internet. If you want to step up and fund a month, please send me $20 USD by paypal to frankinmi@aol.com with the “note” line saying “forum” and the name you want me to use for you in the chart below (or let me know if you prefer to be acknowledged as “anonymous”). Whether you choose to fund a month or not, please, all of you, continue to share your information, insights and photos in postings to the forum. Thank you, Forum Administrator, Frank Omilian Edit, May 9, 2018: We received an extraordinarily generous donation from one of our members today of $120 for the monthly forum fees. He/she has chosen to remain anonymous, as I have noted in the chart below. This closes out needed contributions for 2018 and will cover us for the first 3 months of 2019 as well. The donor's note expressed great appreciation for having access to the mass of information and photos that we have accumulated here. Please, all of us, post here in the forum when you have new information, questions, notes and photos that will keep our information fresh and current as well as being a rich archive. I will get the chart for 2019 donations up here in the next day or two so others so inspired by what we have here can donate and be recognized as well. Thank you very much to all the 2018 donors! 2018 CONTRIBUTORS TO THE FORUM: January - Bikerdoc February - Bikerdoc March - Jay Vannini April - 伊藤 彰洋 (Akihiro Ito) May - Chris Mallett June - Andreas Wistuba July - Andreas Wistuba August - Kenneth Howell September - Kenneth Howell October - Anonymous November - Anonymous December - Anonymous Thank you very much to all the 2017, 2018 and 2019 donors!!!
  7. Frank

    2017 Forum year in review

    2017 Forum year in review As your forum administrator, my stated goal for the forum for the year of 2017 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 am very happy with how we progressed towards that goal this year. We did not find a new platform for our information but we did lower the monthly price to keep it with Invision and we spread the burden of that price among a number of the members. Thank you again to all of you who stepped up and sponsored a month of maintenance fees for the price of $20 per month. Your support is appreciated! I see no reason we cannot provide another year of forum stability in 2018 by proceeding with this same system. I will post a 2018 donation chart next week – and I have already received payment for several of 2018’s months! Another achievement in 2017 was getting Invision to update our out-of-date software and that progressed without incident or data loss. The numerical count of our membership went up this year, but many more than joined left our ranks during the year so the membership number is deceptive. Going forward I will gradually strike from the membership list those members who have not visited with us in several years. Likewise posts to the forum are down for the year. Both of these developments are not unique to our forum – the Facebook ant-plant groups have the same issues. What is up with this! Has the cat ants got your tongues! Please, all of you, continue to share your information, insights and photos here and also respond to the newbies who seek our expertise with their questions. Remember, there was a time you were seeking the same information. As always, I welcome your input and comments, either here or to my email at frankinmi@aol.com Frank Omilian, Forum Administrator
  8. The March 30, 2017 article revising the genus Squamellaria by Guillaume Chomicki moved Hydnophytum kajewskii and H. guppyanum into the genus Squamellaria. All the threads for Hydnophytum kajewskii and guppyanum that used to be here in the Hydnophytum section of the forum have therefore been moved into the Squamellaria section.
  9. Frank

    Beginners corner

    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. http://www.cdpr.ca.gov/docs/pestmgt/ipminov/bensup.pdf 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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..
  13. Hi Robert, nice plant! You are not worried that the pole was treated with chemicals? Who is IML?
  14. Frank

    Myrmecodia tuberosa 'Bogor Gardens'

    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.
  15. Frank


    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"