Ant Plant (Hydnophytum Moseleyanum)
Pot Measurements: Approx. 13cm(Ø) x 9.5cm(H)
Hydnophytum Moseleyanum also known Ant plant, as is a member of the Rubiaceae family native to Cape York, PNG and Melanesia.
- The species grow in tree branches and on trunks.
- These plants can be grown successfully in orchid mix.
- They produce small white flowers in late summer or when conditions are suitable and these are followed by a single red fruit containing one seed.
- An epiphyte that provides hollow tubes and chambers within its swollen trunk that is accommodation for various species of ants, that protect the plant and the plant also benefits by using their waste as fertilizer.
- They form a symbiotic relationship with ants.
- Ant plants provide habitats for ant colonies high up into the forest canopy, protecting them from the elements and also predators because of the spines.
- Hollow, smooth-walled tunnels form within the caudex with external entrance holes, providing an above-ground home for ant colonies.
- Ants likewise provide defense for the plant and prevent tissue damage, swarming to defend their home if disturbed.
- Ant colonies also provide nutrients to the plants by leaving wastes within the tunnels inside the caudex.
- Special glands lining the tunnels then absorb nutriment for the plant.
- This symbiosis allows the plants to effectively gather nutrients (via the ants) from a much larger area than the roots ever could cover.
- They need bright light, though some protection from mid-day sun may be warranted.
- The plants are watered when the mix is just barely moist. If humidity is high, plants can be mounted on cork bark plaques for a more natural appearance.
- Mounted plants will, of course, require more frequent watering.
- It is possible to grow them in a mix of peat and perlite, but an open orchids substrate (sphagnum moss, chopped fir bark, and perlite) seems the best combination.