I have two favourite lowland species. Ok, maybe 3 with N. sumatrana. These are N. northiana and N. bicalcarata. When I was in Borneo, I eagerly waited to meet this legendary species. Why am I so interested in this species you might ask? Well, its peculiar look, its ferocious fangs could be a good answer but what interest me the most is that it is virtually, by the sheer size of its leaf span and the lengh of its vine, one of the biggest Nepenthaceae species and, on top of that, the fact this species is well known for hosting some ant species.
This is what I really wanted to observe: the symbiotic relation of N. bicalcarata with ants. And my wish was fulfilled!
The place we visit is oddly familiar: it looks like European forests.
Of course, looking closely to the vegetation, we can soon realize that we are far from temperate Europe. I soon spot some familiar plants:
We swiftly take a few shots and have along the path some exquisite chats with our guides then we dive onto this European-looking forest.
Humidity level is very high, there is a smell of litter. The soil is wet, muddy and topped with a bed of dead leaves. I'm very surprised to discover in those shaded places some N. rafflesiana:
Then, my eyes lay on N. bicalcarata huge rosettes. I recognize the leaf shape at once:
"When I am king you will be first against the wall..."
Post by rsivertsen on Apr 27, 2009 10:44:27 GMT -10
N. bicals are the only true "ant plant" of the genus. National Geographic magazine had an article about the relationships of these ants with N. bical a few years ago. The plants offer some shelter in the hollow of the tendrils and a source of sugar from the various scattered nectar glands, and the ants provide the plant with some protection against other critters that might otherwise harm the plants. They also wind up on the menu as well. I wonder what size fish tank/terrarium one might need to grow them to flowering size at home!? ;D - Rich
I'm not suffering from insanity! I'm rather enjoying it, actually!