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Posts posted by Derrick

  1. This population was photographed in wet sclerophyll forest, a rarer transitional ecosystem that occurs between Australia's vastly more predominant aridity-adapted often savannah (open canopied) sclerophyll forests and closed canopy rain forests.  A ridge top position permitted better views of these often high perched colonies in this location but further north nearer the peninsulas tip, they were often also low perched.

    IMG_0111 Hydnophytum moseleyanum. Iron Range region..JPG]



  2. The plant on the second sheet was described as M. pendula sp nov., by Merrill & Perry in the Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 26(1) 1945.  However, Huxley & Jebb in their 1993 revision treat this as a synonym for M. schlechteri.  Certainly other nearby plants (my image follows) were probably of the schlechteri taxa complex that were very common throughout much of the highlands.

    "The distinctive characters of this species (pendula) are the branching spines of both the tuberous base and the stem, the somewhat confluent clypeoli, the rather obviously uncinulate corolla-lobes, the bud tapering toward the apex, the anthers low in the tube, beneath them the very scanty tufts of hairs, the short style, and the 6-loculed ovary. Both Myrmecodia pendens and M. pendula were collected from the same branch and were intended to show variation; the photograph shows "detached plants hanging by the long roots by which they dangled in their treetop home." (Merrill & Perry 1945.)


    237c Myrmecodia probably of the schlechteri taxa complex near Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, PNG..JPG]


  3. In summation, I am confident that this is S. thekii.  For future visitors to the Des Voeux Peak track, note the very low altitudes for this species occurrence.  The plant in the above photo can be seen on ones right hand side (when traveling upward) and it is obviously wise to thoroughly check the very first forest patches for this particularly rare species. Unfortunately, much of this lower altitude forest has been decimated by the locals, so the survival of this species is probably severely threatened.  The other two species are quite common, most especially S. imberbis, with some specimens on one's left side a little further along positioned near head height.  There is more information here in special edition 3.  http://xerophilia.ro/

  4. This plant was high in a tree at the edge of a very steep bank sloping down to a river some hundreds of feet below.  It was growing among numerous other plants that were probably of the Myrmecodia schlechteri species complex and I was not even aware that I may have photographed something new to me until I was able to see my images on a computer screen after returning home.  To get perfect flower images all one must do is spend some months in the mountains of Papua New Guinea preferably with an armed police escort (very very expensive.)  Furthermore, climbing gear is essential if one is to get close to high perched specimens. 

  5. Anthorrhiza Huxley & Jebb 1990.

    Anthorrhiza was published in the Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 60, 1990.

      The genus currently consists of nine species primarily from the Papuan (or Bird’s Tail) Peninsula in southeast Papua New Guinea and numbers of the many islands situated in the Massim an ancient Melanesian inter-island trade region now part of Milne Bay Province.

      This places the genus quite some distance from Myrmephytum another small hydnophyte genus that conversely occupies the Bird’s Head (Vogelkop) and Bomberai Peninsulas of West Papua Province, Indonesia, which sits at the opposite north-west, end of New Guinea Island with more species occurring in the Philippine islands to the north.

      No Anthorrhiza or Myrmephytum are recorded in the central New Guinea land mass that sits between, except for Huxley & Jebb’s little known Myrmephytum sp1 collected at Dalman 45 km inland from Nabire on the north-west coast of Papua Province, which is not far from the isthmus that leads to West Papua Province.

      Habitats range from sea level to around 3000 m. (9843 ft.) primarily in stunted undisturbed and disturbed forests on poor soils including agricultural trees. (Huxley & Jebb 1991b.)

      All species have a single inflorescence in one axil at each node but this may be hidden by dense spines; flowers are 4 merous.  Myrmephytum are similar but have six merous flowers.

      According to Huxley & Jebb, lowland Anthorrhiza species somewhat resemble Hydnophytum, while species occurring at or above 1600 m. (5249 ft.), are superficially more like Myrmecodia.  A similar situation occurs among Myrmephytum.

     They are all extremely rare in cultivation but Dr Nicholas Plummer records one Anthorrhiza specimen “on display at the University Of Oxford Botanic Garden, England”.

    I have yet (I hope) to photograph any of these plants in habitat, so the best I can do is submit a few drawings that will show the variation of species.

  6. Myrmecodia pendens Merrill & Perry published in Journal of the Arnold Arboretum 26(1) 1945.

    Description after Huxley & Jebb 1993.  A rather small delicate species that is particularly spiny on both tuber and stem and is readily identified by its white-crested ridges.

    Tuber spherical to cylindrical, (often) growing pendent when mature, c.17 x 6 cm, shiny dark brown with white-edged ridges that tend to run tuber length; swollen areas with pores over honeycombing, spines mainly on ridges but no entrance holes.

    Habitat on edge of upper mixed forests, Oak Quercus forests and Antarctic Beech Nothofagus forests, also in secondary or disturbed forests, savannahs or isolated trees at altitudes of 1200- 1700 m. (3937-5577 ft.)  Often occurring with M. schlechteri but the distinct clypeoli of M. pendens provide an easy diagnostic feature.

    Collections made in Southern and Eastern Highlands Provinces as well as Central and Milne Bay Provinces, PNG.

  7. Brocchinia Subfamily Brocchinioideae.

    Brocchinia J. H. Schultes ex J. A. Schultes & J. H. Schultes in J. J. Roemer & J. A. Schultes published in Systema Vegetabilium 7(2) 1830.  Type Brocchinia paniculata Schultes J. H.  There are about twenty Brocchinia species now a sole genus in the subfamily Brocchinioideae.  Brocchinia diverged from very near the base of the Bromeliaceae about twenty million years ago.  (Givnesh et al. 2007.)

      All species are endemic to the Guyana Shield with a number of species restricted to the isolated ‘island’ like summits of tepui where they have adapted to environments so extreme that the word unique would be an understatement.  They are often pioneer plants - occupying the barest of bare habitats and several species are ecological dominants.

      One may perhaps form an impression from their basal placement and their immensely specialized, ecologically island-like habitats with severely limited dispersal potentials that the genus may have remained primitive.  Yet this is certainly not supported by the facts; indeed, there is enormous variety in this truly fascinating genus and although most Brocchinia species are beyond the scope of even a liberal overview such as this, those described will show just how advanced members of the genus have become.  I quote, “and most remarkably, Brocchinia has undergone an adaptive radiation in mechanisms of nutrient capture unparalleled at the generic level in angiosperms.  Brocchinia includes carnivores, ant-fed myrmecophytes, N² fixing symbionts, tank epiphytes and non-impounding terrestrial forms.” (Givnish et al.1984; Benzing et al. 1985; Givnish et al. 1985; cited by Givnish & Systma 1997.)  It is one of only two genera of flowering plants in which carnivory is present but not universal. (Givnish 1989 cited by Givnish & Systma 1997.)  Finally the genera’s diversity of nutritional strategies is accompanied by extensive variation in both the form and nutrient uptake capacity of its foliar scales or trichomes.” (Givnesh et al. 1984, Benzing et al. 1985, Owen et al. 1988 cited by Givnish & Systma 1997.)

    "Absorptive trichomes are present in Brocchinia but in no other Pitcairnioideae (sic) and it is the only genus in this sub family to have evolved tanks."  (Givnish et al. 1997.)  It is not at all surprising that the placement of Brocchinia has now changed to Brocchinioideae.

  8. No problem, Derrick. I apologize for the mistake on the D. collyris.

     Apologies are not required, we will all make mistakes, Indeed, I have already amended quite a few in my Dischidia notes, so I am glad I checked. Dr Livshultz has obviously been very helpful, unfortunately my experience of certain other doctorates (all male???) has been quite negative.   

  9. I trust that this forum can provide more examples.  Unfortunately the response from the Facebook groups has been very poor.

    Updated whenever new information is available.


    Public Displays of Ant-Plants.

    Australia. Australian National Botanic Gardens, Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Myrmecodia beccarii is on display along with native humus impounding ferns in the epiphyte house.



    Australia. Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens. New South Wales, Australia. Three separate gardens.


    Dischidia bengalensis, D. hirsuta, D. imbricata, D. major, D. melanesica, D. nummularia. D. ovata. D. ruscifolia, Dischidia sp. Drynaria quercifolia, D. rigidula, Hoya darwinii, H. lacunosa, Myrmecodia beccarii, M. tuberosa “muelleri” (as M. muelleri), Myrmecodia sp., Myrmecophila tibicinis (Bateman ex Lindl.) Rolfe; however, this may very well be M. christinae a newly described myrmecodomic orchid. Lecanopteris sinuosa (as Myrmecopteris sinuosa.)


    Australia. Melbourne Royal Botanic Gardens. Victoria. Myrmecodia beccarii. http://www.rbg.vic.gov.au/dbpages/rbgcensus/index.php/census/species_detail/13632


    Australia. Cairns Botanical Gardens, North Queensland. Has Dischidia nummularia & Myrmecodia beccarii growing naturally and many more specimens can be seen au naturel in the mangrove forest from the nearby Airport Avenue boardwalks. But do not touch there are hidden cameras.


    Belgium, Botanic Gardens Meise, has Dischidia, Hydnophytum, Lecanopteris, Tillandsia and some terrestrial species. http://www.br.fgov.be/PUBLIC/GENERAL/index.php.



    Czech Republic. Liberec Botanical Gardens, probably has a few species. http://www.botaniliberec.cz/angl-index.php


    Denmark, Copenhagen Botanical Garden has Myrmecodia tuberosa and a Dischidia species. http://botanik.snm.ku.dk/english/


    France. Nancy Botanical Garden. Aechmea longifolia, Aglaomorpha spp. Anthurium gracile & A. obtusum. Columnea crassifolia, Dischidia astephana, D. vidalii, & D. major, Disocactus amazonicus, Drynaria spp., Elaphoglossum luridum, Grammatophyllum martae, Hydnophytum spp., Lecanopteris spp., Markea coccinea, Microgramma megalophylla, Monolena primuliflora, Myrmecodia spp., Myrmecophila spp., Peperomia macrostachya, Philodendron melinonii, Tillandsia bulbosa, T. butzii, T. intermedia, T. paucifolia, T. pseudobaileyi, & T. seleriana.

    Some of these plants are grown in an artificial South American ant garden and there are some myrmecophytic trees (Acacia caven, Cecropia glaziovii, Coccoloba uvifera, Cordia dichotoma & Maieta guianensis.



    France. Lyon Botanical Garden. A small presentation with some Dischidia, Hydnophytum, Myrmecodia, Monolena primuliflora & Turnera ulmifolia. http://www.jardin-botanique-lyon.com/jbot/


    Germany, Berlin Botanical Garden. Probably has some. http://www.bgbm.org/en/home


    Germany. Hesse, Frankfurt Palmengarten. Has a large Hydnophytum moseleyanum incorrectly labelled as H. formicarum. http://www.palmengarten.de/#/de_DE/index/index



    Germany, Saxony, Dresden Botanical Garden, has at least one Myrmecodia platytyrea. http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fil:Myrmecodia_platytyrea_02.jpg



    Indonesia, Java Island, Bogor Botanic Gardens (Kebon Raya Bogor) once called Buitenzorg grows the new Hoya undulata and very probably many other myrmecophytes. Any reports please.





    Japan, Kochi Prefecture, Makino Botanical Gardens. http://www.makino.or.../index_e.html. Probably has myrmecophytes in its conservatory.


    Netherlands. Hortus Botanicus, Leiden Botanical Garden. http://www.hortusleiden.nl/index.php/english/the_collection/

    Hydnophytum formicarum, H. moseleyanum, Lecanopteris celebica and L. deparioides and a number of undocumented specimens.


    New Zealand.  Due to its location relatively near to many myrmecophyte habitats in the Southwest Pacific and Malesia, we should be a world leader.  Sadly there are none to be seen here.


    Singapore Botanic Gardens. Has the new (2014) myrmecophyte species, Hoya undulata.


    South Africa. North-West University (NWU) Botanical Garden, Potchefstroom Campus, North West Province. The Garden spans just under three hectares and is open to the public. Hydnophytum formicarum is on display. http://www.nwu.ac.za/content/botanical-garden-index-0


    Switzerland, Die Sukkulenten-Sammlung, Zürich. Has a few common myrmecodomic species. https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/sukkulenten#


    United Kingdom. Bristol Zoo. This is in the southwest and has at least one Myrmecodia specimen on display in the reptile house. http://www.bristolzoo.org.uk/


    United Kingdom, Chester Zoo, which is in the north near Manchester and Liverpool, has some myrmecophytes. http://www.chesterzoo.org/


    United Kingdom. Royal Botanical Gardens Kew. Probably has a myrmecophyte collection. http://www.kew.org/


    United Kingdom, Scotland, Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, Hydnophytum sp. Philippines, Hydnophytum sp. Indonesia 2002, Hydnophytum formicarum, Myrmecodia sp. Indonesia, Myrmecodia platytyrea, and some Lecanopteris spp. http://www.rbge.org.uk/


    United Kingdom. The University of Cambridge Botanical Garden may still have an Anthorrhiza sp. in its collection; perhaps the only example in the world. http://www.botanic.cam.ac.uk/Botanic/Home.aspx


    USA. California, Los Angeles: Huntington Botanical Garden (and library) has them in the back greenhouses.  One may acquire tickets for occasional behind the scene tours. http://www.huntington.org/


    USA. California, Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in historic Rancho Santa Anita, Los Angeles County, has at least one Myrmecodia on display. http://www.arboretum.org/


    USA. California, Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA.) Has a good collection of myrmecophytes on display, many donated by Frank Omilian.



    USA. Florida, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens specialises in epiphytes and maintains an off-exhibit collection of ant-plants. http://www.selby.org/


    USA. Georgia, Atlanta Botanical Garden. “Has a few ant plants.” http://atlantabg.org/


    USA. Massachusetts, The Botanic Garden of Smith College. Northampton, MA 01063, has Dischidia, Hydnophytum, Lecanopteris and Myrmecodia. Seed/spores are occasionally sold.



    USA. Texas, Houston Museum of Natural science, Cockrell Butterfly Center has a few ant plants such as Hydnophytum formicarum. http://blog.hmns.org/tag/myrmecophytes/.


    Edited in order to conform with the obvious choice herein for double spacing.

  10. Thanks DG for all of these fascinating new insights  I am making lots of changes to my chapter on myrmecophyte dischidias. I agree that these are difficult plants to identify.  I remember reading about "Dischidia cornuta Tatyana Livshultz published in Blumea 50 (1) 2005 that is a succulent leafed, epiphytic, trunk clasping species almost identical to the widespread D. imbricata except for having insignificant to the lay person, flower differences.  Record: Southern Laos; Champasak Province, Ban Thongset, Nong Khoum at Lat. 15o 20' N, Lon. 106o 32' E at 400-1000 m (1312-3281 ft.)

  11. This is a shell leafed species I photographed in the lowlands very close to the ocean near Kieta on Bougainville Island, northern Solomon Islands Archipelago.  D. milnei was collected on the Solomon Islands.


    From the following informations in this thread (thanks DG.) I can now write that this is probably Dischidia milnei William Botting Hemsley published in Annals of Botany. Oxford 5, 1891.


    10 First imbricate leaved Dischidia sp., found south of Kieta, east central Bougainville Island.JPG]


  12. The statement that D. collyris = D. milnei arose under the recent Dischidia saccata post; however, I will start a new thread to avoid confusion.  My current records obtained from Tropicos, indicate that if these are the same species (???), that collyris (1831)  has precedence  over milnei (1891.)  What am i missing?


    Dischidia collyris Nathaniel Wallich was published in A Numerical List of Dried Specimens, 1831.  Locality Peninsular Malaya.

    Dischidia milnei William Botting Hemsley was published in Annals of Botany. Oxford 5, 1891.  Locality Solomon Islands.  Also a homonym published in Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information Kew 137, 1895.  Both are stem clasping, shell leaved species. 


    Here is an image of a cultivated D. collyris from the Tropicos database. 


  13. This Asplenium australasicum is growing in a most unusually exposed position for this species; one that has little opportunity for impounding through-fall humus and furthermore it is on the dry side of Taveuni Island, Fiji, again a somewhat unusual situation. I suspect it is able to survive here because it is growing alongside a myrmecophytic orchid Grammatophyllum elegans a species with 'trash basket' root systems.

    Fiji Photo's 013, Asplenium australasicum with Grammatophyllum elegans, Taveuni Island, Fiji..JPG]


  14. Although commonly called the Australian Bird's nest Fern it has a much wider distribution occurring also in Papua New Guinea and the following islands of the south Pacific Ocean; French Polynesia (Society Islands & Tahiti), Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and Tonga.   In Australia it occurs on tiny Lord Howe Island, and along moister areas of the East Coast in New South Wales and Queensland.

    Fiji Photo's 031, Asplenium australasicum (J.Sm.) William Jackson Hooker. On the Lavena Village walkway on the wet side of Taveuni Island, Fiji..JPG] 


    post-3-0-42171700-1395017077_thumb.jpg  The Ocean is just a few steps away.


  15. Microsorum musifolium Copeland, the Crocodile Fern is another form of humus impounder.  It so frequently has ant colonies living in plant detritus trapped by its thickly clustered roots that it is possibly an ant symbiont if only of generalist species.

      The genus Microsorum was validly published in 1833 but it is often spelt incorrectly as Microsorium a word that is no more than a typographical error made later in the pages of the original botanical description.  Unless special dispensation from the world taxonomic authority is sought and granted, the very first validly published name always takes precedence over any later synonyms (duplicated names.)

      Range: Burma, far southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Philippines, New Guinea and Eastern Australia.

    Trapping organic debris within thickly clustered roots or stolons is an adaptation common to numerous plant species especially ferns and orchids and these humus reserves are often converted by ants into nests; indeed, some ant and plant species have taken this adaptation much further as we will see in unusually complex arboreal communities called ant gardens.


    I have yet to photograph this species.

  16. n_0074 Drynaria rigidula alongside Middle Kobble Creek, Brisbane Forest Park, D'Aguilar Ranges National Park..jpg]  In this area there was also a rare and attractive mutation of this species with a dichotomy of the individual 'leaf' endings. It is another example of a humus impounding species often found growing on rocks or on extremely barren rocky soils and is another useful addition to arid landscaping in suitably warm climates. 


    Drynaria rigidula (Sw.) Beddome, R. H., published in Ferns of British India pl. 314, 1869. Basionym Polypodium rigidulum Olaf Swartz published in Journal für die Botanik 1800 (2) 26, 1801. This is another common eastern Australian species and an interesting and at least semi-succulent addition to arid-climate rockeries where it may lose all of its leaves during Queensland’s short-day dry-seasons but it quickly forms new leaves after rain.


  17. Drynaria (Bory) John Smith published in Journal of Botany, 1842. This widespread genus of Southeast Asian & Australian Basket Ferns has another humus impounding strategy.  During wet seasons, tall, non-impounding, spore-producing fronds follow compact rows of short, highly persistent, humus-impounding leaves.  Drynaria have nectaries on the bases of frond lobes or the underside of fronds probably evolved to keep protective ants nearby or to encourage spore dispersal. The nectar is rich in sugars and amino acids.  Of note is that the ant species most associated with Drynaria is Philidris cordata a species regularly associated with myrmecophytes.  In Queensland, Australia, snakes - usually non-venomous constrictor species often hide in larger Drynaria clumps, especially during winter.

      Drynaria quercifolia (Linnaeus) John Smith published in Journal of Botany, second series Botanical Miscellany 3, p398, 1841.

    The Oak-leaved Basket Fern of tropical northern Queensland, Australia and South East Asia has such large, fleshy rhizomes that it is probably as succulent as are many caudiciform species grown in aridariums. They certainly are xerophytic, often growing in seasonally very dry, extremely sun-exposed positions upon rocks or trees.  In the harsh northern dry seasons they often dry back to their rhizomes.  They are certainly useful additions to arid climate landscaping.



    IMG_0155 Drynaria quercifolia on a granite boulder, Resolution Island, Cape York Peninsula, North Queensland, Australia..JPG]




  18. post-3-0-69189100-1394917463_thumb.jpg

    Survival Strategies: Humus-impounding Plants.

    Many epiphytes create their very own reserves of canopy soil.  Common examples in nature and in horticulture are humus-impounding Bird-nest Ferns such as Asplenium australasicum that holds through-fall in outstretched leafy rosettes as do the so-called Elk-horn Ferns Platycerium bifurcatum and Stag-horn Ferns P. superbum.  Both catch such considerable volumes of plant debris in their annually produced impounding leaves that Australian bush-walkers (hikers) call them widow makers.  However, they are really an insignificant danger because humus is relatively lightweight.

      These ferns are prime examples of how wanting popular plant names are because they are used quite inappropriately in Australia.  In the USA, P. superbum, the species that does possess elk-horn like leaves is appropriately called Elkhorn while Staghorn is used for Staghorn-leafed P. bifurcatum.

    Such species often contain opportunist ants nesting in their humus.  Other ferns often associated with opportunist ants are the Asian species Asplenium nidus, Platycerium coronarium and others.

    Detrivores and Dangers.

    In addition to resident ants, impounded humus is exploited by a wide range of small animals, fungi, microbes and trespassing epiphytes such as Hare’s foot ferns Davallia species.

      Detrivores feed on and consequently break down dead plant or animal matter.  Other humus inhabitants, including carnivorous animals add uneaten remains of their prey, their bodily excretions and eventually their expired bodies to the “living” humus, eventually returning nutrients to their ecosystem.

      Nevertheless, not all arboreal humus inhabitants are harmless compost eaters; for example, a danger in mid coastal regions of eastern Australia is the highly venomous, hand-sized, Northern Tree Funnel-web Spider Hadronyche formidabilis that builds tunneled retreats within tree crevices or plant-impounded humus and it is quite capable of killing humans.  As its specific name implies it is formidable.

  19. M. tuberosa “dahlii.”  Tubers horizontal to pendulous, irregularly conical or cylindrical, pale grey-brown and reaching 25 x 20 cm.  Spines sparse to numerous, mostly placed on ridges; entrance holes to 5 mm across, placed in arcs around pored internal honeycombed areas.  Stems one to several, pendent to slightly curving upwards, occasionally branched near the base and reaching 30x1.5 cm with indistinct clypeoli to 2x1 cm. Spines quite dense around circular alveoli; fruit red, seed 4-6.

      Habitats:  Disturbed and undisturbed forests as well as plantation forests of Cocoa, Balsa or Coconut where they are mostly low perched at altitudes from sea level to 1000 m. (3281 ft.)  In native forests they are often high perched.  Range: New Britain Island; I found them to be very common on the Gazelle Peninsula often in the deep shade of Cocoa and Balsa tree plantations where photography was a little challenging.  This form also occurs on nearby New Ireland Island where in southern regions it grades into the large “salomonensis” Solomon Islands form.  It was frequently accompanied with a variety of Dischidia and orchid species.

      The Gazelle Peninsula experiences a more pronounced dry season than does the central east side of Bougainville Island, the most northerly of the Solomon Islands, the area I visited.


    Abbreviated from Huxley & Jebb 1993

  20. Excellent work Frank. It would seem that the L. carnosa description needs to be clarified plus perhaps another description for a completely new species presumably with similar leaves but differing rhizome details.  Is there accurate provenance information available for plants in cultivation that would permit such typification or would it require another trip to Sulawesi?

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