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IUCN: not evaluated
Family: RUBIACEAE Genus: Myrmecodia Species: tuberosa Species Author: Jack Vernacular: Ant Plant Synonyms: Myrmecodia armata, Myrmecodia echinata
This unusual species forms a symbiotic relationship with ants. Ant plants such as Myrmecodia tuberosa provide habitats for ant colonies high up in 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. 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.