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Drynaria quercifolia, Cape York Peninsula. North Queensland, Australia.

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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]




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Drynaria quercifolia the Oak-leaved Basket Fern is widespread in the Indomalayan Ecozone as well as in northern Australia.  It has such thick succulent stolons it is certainly xerophytic and possibly even succulent coping with drought by losing its leaves in annual dry seasons.

  It is eaten by larvae of the Lycaenid butterfly Hypochrysops theon medocus Fruhstorfer. “The smallest larva observed feeding on a frond of the food plant was about 6mm in length and it is thought that the younger larvae feed within galleries in the rhizome occupied by the attendant ant Iridomyrmex cordatus (sic.) (Fr Smith cited by Daniels 1976.)  This report of possible ant galleries warrants further investigation.  Highly indicative of an ant relationship is that D. quercifolia, and D. rigidula, (and other congeners) possess nectaries.

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