Friday, 5 September 2008

Poikilospermum sp. This can't be jungle broccoli, can it ? Yes

We found this strange set of flowers in the local forest (or, at least, Ron did, and it turns out to be even more strange than I ever thought.
1) Either the leaves or the flowers are eaten by people in Sabah, Borneo, so my silly comment about jungle broccoli just might be right.
A species of climber called binatong (Poikilospermum sp.) found in abundance in both Sabah and Sarawak is also collected and cooked as
2) It has a wonderful relationship with ants, who actually plant this liana's seeds at the entrances to their nests.
However, they (ants) maintain a very close relationship to another plant, the hemi-epiphyte Poikilospermum cordifolium. Most entrances of these ants on tree trunks have some seedlings of this Poikilospermum, obviously planted by the ants that act like gardeners. Some of the plants grow very large and send roots down the trunk into the soil. As the ant colonies around those large hemi-epiphytes are currently still active, this suggests that such colonies may live for many years at the same spot, and that the association between Crematogaster (ant) and Camponotus (ant) is a very stable one. This relationship between the two ants in a common nest is termed parabiosis.....
And what's more, the two ant species live together in total harmony, which is fairly amazing.
The two species are a big one, and a small one, but they live together quite happily. Wish our politicians could do the same.

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