Myrmecodia sp., Ant Plant. Myrmecodia echinata
Myrmecodia echinata

Myrmecodia sp.

Ant Plant
Family: Rubiaceae
Origin: Southeastern Asia
Plant with caudexSmall plant 2-5 ftSemi-shadeRegular waterEpiphyte plantPlant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds

This "Ant Plant" is an interesting and unusual epiphytic plant whose swollen base also provides housing for ants. Myrmecodia have thick unbranched stems with larger leaves. They are sometimes covered with unusual structures, called clypeoli (shield like structures surrounding each leaf base). Clypeoli may have spines to give the stem an armored appearance. These spines can be simple or branched. The base of the stem develops into a tuber. The tuber is a brown or greyish color. There are entrance holes on the surface that connect to galleries inside the tuber. These galleries are split up. There are smooth walled galleries where ants live, and are protected. The plants take advantage of the ant's waste products while the ants are thought to help protect the plant from predators. Many growers successfully use a mix of peat and perlite, or a combination of long-fiber sphagnum moss, chopped fir bark, and perlite which is very open but retains moisture. The plants are watered when the mix is just barely moist, because sphagnum is difficult to re-wet if it is allowed to become bone dry.

See other 'Ant plant' - Hydnophytum.

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