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Stone Jaguar

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About Stone Jaguar

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    Guatemala & Bay Area, California

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  1. I have collected Columnea crassifolia on many occasions in Chiapas, México and Guatemala. It is invariably found in upper foothill or middle elevation cloud forest. Never, not once, found it associated with ants. I agree with Aurélien's view that someone almost certainly mixed genera and confused with Codonanthopsis crassifolia, a VERY different-looking, near obligate Central American myrmecophyte in nature. Columnea linearis is a lowland tropical forest species that rarely makes it to low elevation Caribbean versant cloud forest in southern Central America. This is an example of a wild-source, cultivated Columnea crassifolia in my garden in Guatemala from 1,600 m in Quezaltenango Department, Guatemala. J
  2. Good afternoon, Aurélien. Thanks! I am currently working with Juan José Castillo on two equally remarkable new Chamaedorea species from northern Central America as well. It is a shame that Fred Muller's amazing photos of the infructescences were not used in that Phytotaxa article. None of he heather like Neotropical ericoids are myrmecophytic as far as I am aware. I have several high Andean disterigmas here and they all seem pretty straightforward. Congratulations on your new displays! Keep safe, J
  3. Thanks to both for kind comments. Frank, hopefully we see greater interest in growing carefully thought out multispecies mounts by myrmecophyte collectors. The orchid growing community have been sold "species sticks" by a few US nurseries for some time but they are usually just a hodgepodge of species tied on a manzanita branch and priced 3X. I have already shown some mounts I did in Guatemala with Myrmecodia tuberosa and some Malesian Dischidia spp. about 12 years back, but there is clearly a great deal of room for improvement on my efforts. Derrick, thanks very much for catching that vagrant "n". I usually snipe stray typos in the articles myself over time, but haven't yet had a chance to go over that one with a perfectly clear set of eyes. I think that outside of the research community, the line between a "mymecophyte guild" and an "ant garden" is a bit blurred. I view standalone myrmecophytic epiphytes growing in isolation as one end of the spectrum, and these giant, complex parabiotic ant carton-based communities at the other, with everything in between as being some sort of "ant garden" or other in the eyes of many entomologists and botanists. I hope that the images in the article showing mature Myrmecophila spp. as community anchors with "satellite" orchids and bromeliads growing in their immediate vicinity illustrate how variable these ant garden models can be in the Neotropics. These smaller ant-inhabited plants growing on the periphery of community probably both provide and derive defenses to/from the broader garden area dominated by cow horn orchids. I don't have any of my friends or colleagues assist in editing my work except when doing a joint publication so no complaints on that end. Everyone I know is busy trying to make a living and building their own image banks or online presence, so I try and lean on them as rarely as possible and solely to provide me with particular images I need in order to generate fully original content. Neither Fred nor Ron are particularly interested in myrmecophytes, but do encounter them in nature during the course of their fieldwork. These men are obviously most focused on orchids. In this particular case, both were at localities in LatAm with ant garden plants whose images I wanted and were able to take some fresh shots specifically requested for this piece, apart from retrieving a few others from their archives, as a special favor. Besides the species mentioned in the article, the 500 lb gorilla in the room as regards myrmecophytes, IMO, is Philodendron. This very large Neotropical aroid genus (~600 described species with well over 1,000 now believed to be out there), has MANY species with EFNs, succulent and semi-hollow petioles and birds-nest or otherwise litter trapping plant forms. I strongly believe that further research will reveal much closer relationships between some philos and ants than is currently documented. I also suspect that, as is known to be the case in some bromeliads, some are closely ant-associated and prone to self-pollinate at one locality and not at another. Best regards, J
  4. Howdy: As we all know, this forum showcases an amazing variety of Old World myrmecophytes in nature and cultivation, yet the Neotropical forms have been a bit neglected over the years. Due to an immense amount of confusion about the identities of some ant-associated orchid species, as well as the fact that some ferns, bromeliads and cacti appear to be obligate myrmecophytes in some regions but not in others, makes writing about Neotropical ant plants a fraught endeavor for those without boots-on-the-ground experience with tropical American ant gardens and their plants. I have been toying with the idea of assembling a couple of hanging displays centered on Neotropical ant gardens after unsuccessfully trying to convince our local botanical garden that the associated flora are certainly of as much interest as the more familiar Malesian myrmecophytes. Sadly, "Big Myrmecodia-on-the-Brain" seems to be the order of the day over there... Anywise, here's the first build, as a nod to the the staggering diversity of ant garden flora of the New World Tropics and one way to display them. https://www.exoticaesoterica.com/builds-gear-and-hacks/2019/12/8/ants-in-my-plants Enjoy, J
  5. Hi, Derrick. These Ceratostema spp are epiphytic, but many others grow as terrestrials or hemiepiphytes. I have not observed EFNs on those terrestrial forms that I grow. J
  6. Yes, I agree that the lignotuber looks very much like a potato. With age, the lignotubers of quite a few Neotropical Ericaceae can become massive. I have posted an image on my website of a caudex on a wild Macleania insignis the size of a bullock's heart. Flowers remain in perfect condition for more than three weeks and are quite substantial in weight and substance. A few more opened this week. The black inner tips of the corollas are remarkable. J
  7. As everyone on who reads this forum will know, ant-plant associations are everywhere around us, but are particularly evident in the tropics. Forum members are also well aware that MANY surprising discoveries in this loose group have turned up of late with - no doubt - many more to come. A number of Neotropical blueberries (Ericaceae) are currently very popular with exotic plant collectors because of their handsome foliage and beautiful flowers. Recently I discovered that several epiphytic species of the genus Ceratostema from Colombia, Ecuador and Perú also possess well-developed extrafloral nectaries (EFN) on the abaxial surface of their leaves. Since these species also develop large lignotubers, it seems that the perfect match for fat plant collectors of strange caudex and showy flowers has finally popped up in a rather unexpected family. One Neotropical blueberry species, Disterigma utleyorum, has long known to be an inhabitant of regional ant gardens and is rather infamous among regional botanical collectors for its close association with aggressive ants. A sample herbarium sheet (Wilbur 21706 ) notes, "Epiphytic and growing closely interacting with a large ant colony at its base. The ericad forms a picket fence about the ant colony capped by a 12-15 inch disk of moss." It is fairly widely distributed throughout lower montane cloud forests and foothill wet forests from eastern Costa Rica to northern Ecuador. Sadly for ant plant collectors, it is quite unremarkable in appearance. I recently noted conspicuous EFNs on the underleaf surfaces of a couple Ceratostema species that I grow in northern California, and an acquaintance has drawn my attention to a third that he has in collection in southern California. All three species (C. glans, C. sp. inderminate 1, and C. sp. indeterminate 2) are caudex forming and two are now known to produce attractive flowers. The smallest-flowered of the trio, C. glans, has typical corolla shape and color for the genus and is shown below. It is the other species that I am cultivating here that has - to put it mildly - shocked me with an unexpectedly outrageous, ongoing floral display that certainly awards it the title of "Most glamorous-looking ant plant". As far as I can determine, this is an undescribed species from an undisclosed locality in cloud forests of the NW Andes with terminal inflorescences and 2.25"/6 cm wax-coated corollas. I'll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Fortunately for horticulture and unlike hydnophytines, most caudexed Neotropical blueberries will develop normal looking lignotubers from cutting-grown plants with time. I have two legally-imported wild-collected accessions, have rooted a couple small cuts as a trial and will also attempt to set seed next year. Ciao, J
  8. Great shots, and excellent observations on this. Just encountered very conspicuous extrafloral nectaries on the abaxial surfaces of the leaves on an apparently undescribed epiphytic Neotropical blueberry (probably a Ceratostema; hasn't flowered yet for confirmation). Ant + plant relationships are everywhere we look for them. J
  9. Good day to all. One of the most appealing aspects of hydnophytines are their extraordinary, varied, weird, eccentric, bizarre, unbelievable, etc. plant forms. More than one grower has trialed them in bonsai pots in the past, but I thought I'd give it a go with a lot of (mostly) larger-sized material. I have provided a link below to an article I just posted on my website on bonsai ant plants. As Frank has been kind enough to mention above, all five genera are illustrated there that are displayed in this style. https://www.exoticaesoterica.com/whats-new Click on the article link provided on the "What's New?" page. I think some may find the Squammelaria kajewskii especially tasty ;^) Enjoy, J
  10. Two years and a half years after the cross-section above was made, I came across the same plant today when I was looking for larger candidates in need of repotting. My experience is that the attractive visuals of sectioned hydnophytine caudexes are largely obliterated within 12-18 months from cuts so some thought should be invested in whether and where to make stem cuts for display purposes. Note that I tried to select an image with the same scale and orientation for comparative purposes. As unlikely as this sounds, I think you could end up with a fairly normal looking plant within four years of a major, very traumatic cross-section like what was shown in 2017. There a branches emerging all over the calloused tissue that has covered the exposed hollow caudex, as well as from the edge of the old cut. J
  11. Thank you for the heads-up, Frank! An excellent resource and, obviously, much to quibble with. It is clear that the authors have taken a very "safe" route and only accepted species with very clear major morphological differences. The placement of the species treated into natural "Groups" is a very useful development. While this treatment is not necessarily new, it is very well fleshed-out in the paper. The sinking of all Philippine Hydnophytum spp. into H. formicarum and H. moseleyanum may warrant closer scrutiny down the road. J
  12. It's interesting to see such remarkable Hydnophytum spp. from this island. I'll add another. This is obviously part of the Ovatum group published online today by Jebb and Huxley, but its stems and leaves differ from the three Malukan species shown, and the flowers differ from the illustration of a corolla of Hydnophytum tortuosum from the Papuan mainland. Despite floral differences, I assume that this species is closest to H. tortuosum. This is a massively-caudexed species, a seedling of which was collected more than a decade ago by an anonymous friend in SE Asia. In 2016, a small, unrooted branch was provided to me and imported courtesy of other friends at a US public garden that did me the favor of piggy-backing duplicates of several small hydnophytines on their permits as part of a large collection of exotic tropicals they had acquired in the region. Fortunately, I was able to root the branch and, over the past year and with considerable manipulation, grow it out and generate a few viable seeds from it. I now have two large seedlings of this species in cultivation in California, together with the original branch. I am not able to share images of the wild plants due to privacy requests by their owner, but his photos show it growing exposed in high canopy, adpressed to a tree trunk. Caudexes are very large, light gray in color, mostly smooth with angular ridges running down the caudex. Leaves are sometimes orbicular and can be palm-sized when well cultivated. The fruit has a lengthy ripening period (~eight months). The seedlings have very large leaves and caudexes for their size and, leaves apart, have a growth habit much more similar to the radicans-types than moseleyanum-types. Unsurprisingly, cold sensitive but not to the degree one would expect. Medium-sized leaf showing very distinct veins shown above. Leaves can be almost twice this size and perfectly round when conditions are to its liking. While not the longest lamina in the genus, perhaps one of the widest. Stem with leaves removed, showing terete to winged/angular transition basally to apically in each section. Detail of flowers and developing fruit shown above. Almost all of this will abort soon. First ripe fruit shown I generated is shown below. All have been two-seeded. Cheers, J
  13. As far as I can tell, nothing in Huxley & Jebb descriptions match Andreas' plant exactly. Myrmecodia albertisii ssp. incompta seems the best fit other than the leaves as described and illustrated in Fig. 15D. The authors do, however note that accessions from Normanby "...differ in leaf size, but are closely related." Last night I had completely forgotten that I have a compot of M. "tuberosa" Siasiada here at the house. I checked the leaves today and they match Andreas' plant shown above although they are probably a year behind his and don't have spines yet. J
  14. Greetings. As was originally noted, Derrick appears to have come across several remarkable Myrmecodia spp. growing in sympatry at Siasiada. Possibilities among described species seem to be Myrmecodia platytyrea, M. albertisii, M. (tuberosa) papuana and M. schlechteri. Frank left a very useful map of probable candidates posted above. I have a couple of reasonably large young plants from this locality that I'm growing in California that don't fit perfectly into the theoretical "mix" from the area, nor do they match the plant Andreas shows above, that seems to be lacking clypeoli (which would fit M. schlecteri ssp. pendula and M. albertisii ssp. incompta). My plants have conspicuous clypeoli ringed with spines and unbranched spines, so they're neither of those, nor M. platytyrea ssp. antoinii. Their caudex form does not match the Iron Range M. platytyrea I've grown, but the reddish-colored petioles, imbricate clypeoli and leaves appear to match Derrick's photos of wild plants shown elsewhere on the forum. I received a single M. papuana seed mixed in with Anthorrhiza areolata which I have grown on, and it matches Cape York, Australian material that I grow perfectly so far. Nothing special about it terms of spine arrangement, clypeoli form, etc. I look forward to seeing fruit color to see whether it also matches Oz populations. In any case, it seem that few papuana outside of Australia have good locality data attached to them, so its good to have a specimen with provenance in cultivation. Fortunately, it looks like both Andreas' plant has already flowered and mine should soon. In any case, it now looks like it is confirmed that four species occur at or very near to Siasiada. J Above left, M. cf. platytyrea Siasiada #2, right, young M. papuana Normanby Side by side comparison of the two plants. M. cf. platytyrea Siasiada leaf detail. Like all lowlanders from PNG and Papua, they despise the cool nights here but somehow come through.
  15. Stone Jaguar


    Hi, Derrick. Thanks very much for providing a link to your FB forum for those interested in this group of plants. Sadly, the evidence thus far suggests that most of the small community growing hydnophytines and other myrmecophytes is not a particularly vocal one. Certainly there appears to be more participation online by people who interact with them in the field (i.e. enthusiasts located in Malesia and some foreign researchers) and that that community does indeed seem to prefer engagement on Fakebook. As you noted, I specifically avoid that site. I find the founder a dishonest hypocrite and his product to be a loathsome parasite of the needy, the narcissistic and the very lonely, while providing only marginal real value to the arts, commerce and science. Its impact on global society and civilized discourse is, IMO, overwhelmingly negative. It richly deserves both the heavy boot of burro-cracy on its fat neck and to be the target of multiple, multi-billion dollar class actions. That opinion aside, I will be launching my own tropical natural history oriented website with a couple good friends in a few weeks that will also carry information on cultivating offbeat plants, including all genera of hydnophytines. Like others I know, I am disheartened that this particular forum did not develop the enthusiastic following that some of us believe it warranted. Sincerely, J
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