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Cochliostema: Tank epiphyte

Arranging leaves in the shape of a funnel is a perfect adaptation to life in the forest canopy. These funnels can function as simple compost heaps that catch leaf litter falling from above. In some plant groups, though, they form watertight tanks that act as water cisterns housing their own tiny colony of animals. Funnel forming epiphytes are especially common in two groups of plants, ferns and bromeliads. In the plant kingdom, evolutionary adaptations like this often occur in parallel.

As an example, the genus Cochliostema has leaf tanks that look just like those found among the bromeliads – but the two groups are completely unrelated. Cochliostema is member of the spiderwort family, which consists mostly of grass-like herbs and has nothing to do with the bromeliad family. As in evolution nothing can be copied, this is an example that different plants often find the same solutions to similar environmental conditions, independently of one another.

Audio file download
Cochliostema: Tank epiphyte (MP3, 513 KB)

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

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