Saturday, March 31, 2018

ants in the plants?

Trout lily (Erythronium americanum) is an early blooming perennial, a woodland wildflower that is on display now. It gets its odd name because the leaves are mottled and to some look like the sides of a brook trout.

But the cool thing is trout lilies grow in colonies and are examples of myrmecochory meaning that their seeds are dispersed and planted by ants, yes ants, like many of the other spring ephemerals. Needless to say, the ants do not move the seeds too far.

But why? 
The ants are only interested in the elaiosomes, the edible parts that are rich in lipids, amino acid and other nutrients. Then they toss the true seed aside underground. Win-win.

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