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New Greenhouse in Nancy BG : Interactions animal/plants

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Hi all,

As announced previously, I come back here after a long absence. Actually, I had a continuous increase of work the previous years. And now, I would be pleased to show you one of the work I did during this time.

The idea of a greenhouse dedicated to animals and plants' interaction is an old dream, and long-term endeavour. But we finally open this house in fall 2018, and I'm quite happy of the result 🙂
Of course, it's not finished (and it'll never been finished 😉 ), and I continue to improve it as I can (and the next weeks could be an interesting period for it).

Animal/plants interactions exists since both group of organisms were appeared in Earth, are everywhere and led to remarkable co-evolution. Among many occurring interactions, we choose to present these through tropical ecosystem with these examples:

- Carnivorous plants, and moreover Nepenthes. Nepenthes show really interesting co-evolutions with another organism (bats, Tupaia, rats, termites, ants, bacteria, frogs, insects larvae, ...), with one myrmecophilous species! Whole carnivorous plants will be presented in another greenhouse (I work actually to another new greenhouse, that we aim to open this fall, completely dedicated to carnivorous plants and their habitats)

- Ant-plants. Of course, one of my favourite topic for this house 😉

- Pollination. It seems to be evident, but we would like to present it through "nice" examples: pollination by bats, lizards, birds, mice...

- Phytothelmata. Another interesting interaction. For diverse reasons, some plants could accumulate water (or produce liquids). And diverse forms of life could grow in it. Bromeliads, Commelinids, Nepenthes, Bamboo among other.

- Zoochory. Dispersion of plants by animal is an interesting subject. It could be external (exozoochory), internal (endozoochory), with double situation : diploendozoochory (when a carnivore eat a frugivore), and is trully important for long distance dispersal. We know the case of seeds, but it's also important for living plants, i.e. turions of aquatic plants by birds, or Tillandsia usneoides used for bird's nests.

- Herbivory. The most common interaction (even if it's not really for the benefice of plants!). And we choose to show it with "defence" mechanism: sensitive plants, the egg mimicry of Passiflora sect. Decaloba and the pseudo-eaten leaves of some Ficus species, ie. F. politoria from Madagascar.

As we show only plants, and animals are absent from the house, we had put some really showy pictures to illustrate our speech.

And next: pictures!

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The entrance of the house with transparent plastic strips, with tropical forest layout printed. And a pergola with Nepenthes, so people enter in a tunnel made by Nepenthes lianas and hanging pitchers 😉


Nepenthes species in a living Sphagnum bed. Mixed with Amorphophallus species, interesting for pollination features 😉


Another Nepenthes, and the pictures of well known interactions.788743143_Serreplantesanimaux20200406033.thumb.JPG.9f5faae33d0c23188138103936d9cdcf.JPG

A false tree with epiphytic Nepenthes.


N. bicalcarata, a nice transition from carnivorous plants to ant-plants.940930470_Serreplantesanimaux20200406051.thumb.JPG.20667d6a20a6db889798ef3e3bbe08c2.JPG

Cecropia membranacea, a nice ant-tree. Here with epiphytic Cactaceae Strophocactus witii.


This one is a true myrmecophilous, with trichilia and müllerian bodies.




In an other hand, C. schreberiana subsp. antillarum is not an obligate ant-species.


Albeit from a lineage really near Cecropia, the Brazilian Coussapoa dealbata (previously known as Cecropia dealbata) shows no adaptation to myrmecophily. It's used here cause I love this tree (and I cheat a little bit 😉 ), and also a a support for false neotropic ant-gardens, with Aechmea longifolia, A. mertensii, Monolena primuliflora, Anthurium obtusum, Philodendron linnaei, Columnea linearis.




At his feet, a clump of Maieta guianensis, a pretty Melastomataceae rarely seen in cultivation.1826938707_Serreplantesanimaux20200406081.thumb.JPG.6a977f067a441fca7894c52c1e5c48f4.JPG

Another Melastomataceae from Guyanas : Tococca guianensis. I love particularly this plant and it's actually the most beautiful specimen I'd ever grown ❤️



Cordia alliodora, a neotropical tree with hollow gales. I put an epiphytic ant-garden asiatic Zingiberaceae on his trunk: Hedychium longicornutum.


We continue with ant tree. Clerodendrum speciosissimum with its extrafloral nectaries.


Acacia cornigera with its nice hollow spines and beltian bodies in its folioles.


Also here: A. sphaerocephala, A. caven, Kigelia africana, Blakea subconnata, B. pulverulenta, Piper auritum.

Now, bromeliads! WIth a beautiful specimen of Brocchinia acuminata.


Another false tree made with cork, this branch is totally dedicated to ant associated Tillandsia : T. paucifolia, T. utriculata, T. intermedia, T. bulbosa, T. xerographica, T. juncea, T. seleriana, T. pseudobaileyi, T. pseudosetacea...


Next: epiphytic ant-plants!

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I'm particularly fond of these artificial trees made with hollow cork an a mix of pine bark and living Sphagnum.

Here, I use it to show the high diversity of neotropical ant-gardens. Cactaceae: Epiphyllum crenatum, E. hookeri, E. phyllanthus, Deamia testudo. Piperaceae: Peperomia macrostachya, P. emarginella. Solanaceae: Juanulloa mexicana, Markea coccinea, M. longiflora, M. sessiliflora. Araceae: Philodendron ornatum, P. melinonii, P. deflexum, Anthurium gracile, A. scandens. Ferns: Microgramma lycopodioides, M. megalophylla. Bromeliads: Aechmea bracteata, A. longifolia, A. recurvata, Araecoccus flagellifolius. Gesneriaceae: Codonanthe macradenia, Columnea linearis, C. crassifolia. Orchids: Myrmecophila spp., Psychilis atropurpurea, Encyclia cordigera...




And of cause, I've put two branches dedicated to Hydnophytinae!




They look healthy here, in a sunny place, with high air movement. They grow fastest than in pot in the private greenhouses...

A small panorama.

Myrmecodia tuberosa from peninsular Malaysia, probably M. tuberosa 'armata'.


The northern form of M. beccarii.


A typical Hydnophytum formicarum.


A lovely Myrmecodia from Papua. I've identified it as M. albertisii subsp. albertisii.849725503_Serreplantesanimaux20200406064.thumb.JPG.d8d83f21114b9b6fc118eea47941858a.JPG


A big and strong specimen of non ant-associated Hydnophytum : H. radicans (previously H. simplex). We don't see really in the picture, but the caudex is about 15-20 cm in diameter and whole plant reach 70cm! That's incredible as it's a 3-4 years seedling. It grow so fast here...


Another nice Myrmecodia from Papua. To me, it's M. kutubuensis.



Hydnophytum moseleyanum from Papua. A classical!


These Myrmecodia received as M. echinata, I called them M. platytyrea... Perhaps I'm wrong. One BG gave it to Nancy in 1989 as from Philippines, but I'm quite dubious of it! There's so much risks of swaping of plants or labels in greenhouses... So in 30 years!



Next one came from Solomons' Island. I've recalled it Myrmecodia tuberosa 'salomonensis' (or M. salomonensis). It's so pretty with its orange petioles!




Myrmephytum beccarii, another classic.


Another specimens of M. tuberosa 'armata' from peninsular Malaysia. I've put them upside down, I love this hanging habit!




And to finish: a pretty nice Hydnophytum from Jayapura that I grow without name since a loooong time. I just recalled it H. lauterbachii sine 2019 revision of the genus. Problem: H. lauterbachii is supposed to come from S. Papua, and Jayapura is in the North...



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The biggest work of the house: a dripping wall made with volcanic rock. 3 months of work for 3 peoples! But I'm happy about the result 😉

The first idea was to present myrmecophily on the left, and zoogamy on the right. So, most of the paleotropic ant-plants and asiatic ant-garden plants are here: Asplenium, Platycerium, Lecanopteris, Microsorum, Pyrrosia, Aglaomorpha, Dischidia, Hoya, Medinilla, Pachycentria, Grammatophyllum... But it's too wet for them, and it's not representative to have them in a wall. If I could, I'll build another branch in cork for them. Later...


In the right face, I've put many flowering plants. Gesneriaceae, Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae, Begonia... About 300 species of various groups! The idea is to have a nice wall with high diversity, but also to have all the time some flowering plants. And particularly with interesting features for pollination (birds, lizards...)




Some orchids are also in a cork branch here:



And the Phytotelmata place! With A huge Alcantarea, Cochliostemma odoratissima, Nepenthes ampullaria, and diverse tank bromeliads.


And the pedagogical pannels! I've write the texts and ask many people to get nice pictures of animals living in phytotelmata in situ.


The place for zoogamy. The text and pictures refers to plants everywhere in the house. It take me so much time to find these picture, but wahou! These are so nice and so demonstrative!

In this picture, you could also see on the left a branch with Vanilla (for zoogamy), and a bird nest build in our greenhouses by a local Turdus with our Tillandsia usneoides (for zoochory)! In the middle, Desmodium incanum, a nice Fabaceae with hooked fruits (very sticky!) that I'd mischievously put right in the middle of the path 😛. On the right, several sensitive plants (for "defence" against herbivory). The well known Mimosa pudica, but also M. diplotricha, M. sensitiva, M. polycarpa, M. pigra, M. uncinnata, Biophytum sensitivum and B. sokupii. The hanging liana is Passiflora colinvauxii, also for defence.


Zoochoty board:


And "defence" against herbivory board.


That's all folks!

I hope you enjoy this virtual visit during these strange times of lockdown 😉

Take care and stay well,
All the best,

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  • Frank featured this topic

Thank you Aurélien. Lots of names here to keep me busy while I cope with Covid 19 Lockdown here in NZ.  Often when checking new possible epiphytic myrmecophyte names for my Ebook/database, I find even more examples. Quite a few new names that will appear in my 2020 edition (if the virus does not get me - I will soon to be 80) have also been added to my Facebook group because there is currently much interest from South American university students/graduates. One of my Facebook members is translating the book into Spanish, our planets fourth most spoken language. 

Here is one that you can update if you accept their research.

Codonanthopsis. Mansf. (Rupert Mansfield) Repertorium Specierum Novarum Regni Vegetabilis 36, p120. (1934) (Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg.) Actually vol.37 but behind Wiley paywall. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/fedr.19340370103

Revision. Chautems & Mat. Perret, Redefinition of the Neotropical Genera Codonanthe (Mart.) Hanst. and Codonanthopsis Mansf. (Gesneriaceae). Selbyana Vol.31 No.2 pp143-156, (2013)

Codonanthopsis has been enlarged from two to 13 species distributed in Central America, the Caribbean, north-western South-America, and the Amazonian basin. This expanded circumscription of Codonanthopsis requires the transfer of ten taxa traditionally recognized as Codonanthe and one originally described in Paradrymonia. This publication includes 11 new combinations and 9 lectotypifications.”


Habit/Ecology/Infauna. Epiphytic always growing in ant gardens. Seed resembles the eggs and larvae of ants which find them attractive (pheromones?) to the degree that they collect and plant them in the walls of their arboreal carton nests to create ant gardens. Range. Central America, the Caribbean, north-western South-America, and the Amazonian basin.

Codonanthopsis macradenia (Don. Sm). Chautems & Mat. Perret (Alain P. Chautems & Mathieu Perret) comb nov. Redefinition of the Neotropical Genera Codonanthe (Mart.) Hanst. and Codonanthopsis Mansf. (Gesneriaceae). Selbyana Vol.31 No.2 p153 (2013.) 


Basionym Codonanthe macradenia Don Sm. (John Donell Smith) Botanical Gazette 25 (3), pp154/5, (1898) (Bot. Gaz.)


Type, Costa Rica, Boruca, (1892), Tonduz 6769 (lectotype US00126533! designated by Moore (1973) isolectotypes at BM, BR, P, U.

Ecology/Infauna, An obligate ant-garden inhabitant. (Orivel & Leroy. The diversity and ecology of ant gardens (Hymenoptera: Formicidae; Spermatophyta: Angiospermae) Myrmecological News 14, pp73-85. (2011)


Evidence for Partitioning of Belezean Ant Nest Substrate by a Characteristic Flora, Paul M. Catling, Biotropica, Vol. 27, 4, pp 535-537, (1995.)


Range, Mexico - Oaxaca, Central America, (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.) South America (Colombia - Choco, La Guajira, Santander).) Propagation, easy from cuttings or seed.

Ant Gardens.


Edited by Derrick
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Hi Jeff and Derrick, and thanks for your nice comments.

Thanks also Derrick for these nice infos. Yes, I accept their research, and I'll change the name! I wasn't aware of this paper and changes. gesneriads.info is my reference for Gesneriaceae, and this change is also accepted by POWO, one of my principal resources for taxonomy.

All the best, especially during these pandemic times...

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