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Anthurium gracile: Ant gardens

Plants adapted to life in the forest canopy must ensure that at least some of their seeds don’t fall to the ground, but land on other tree branches and germinate there. Anthurium gracile has developed a unique way to solve this problem. Ants carry Anthurium’s fruit into the nests they build high in the forks of trees and eat the flesh, but leave the seeds untouched. The seeds then germinate in the middle of the nest, an ideal environment for the young seedlings. Small “gardens” grow up in and around the nests, stabilizing the loose ant nests with their roots and protecting them against being washed away in the heavy tropical rainstorms.

Other members of the aroids also rely on animals to disperse their seeds. Their berries are eaten by birds or monkeys, but their seeds survive their trip through the digestive system and are eventually deposited on a tree branch – if they’re lucky.

Audio file download
Anthurium gracile: Ant gardens (MP3, 379 KB)

Audio production and copyright: Soundgarden Audioguidance GmbH
Text: Andreas Gröger, Botanischer Garten München-Nymphenburg

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