Woke this morning to temperatures of -10F.
The blue jays line the trees,
This is the Year of the Blue Jay!
Record numbers are being recorded here in the Northeast US.
Although it is only mid-January, I'm already weary of the biting cold, and my thoughts have turned to spring.
Little sister keeps assuring me that spring is just around the corner!
I wait with anticipation for our daily jaunts through the forest in search of my favorite flowers of all,
the spring ephemerals!
One of the phenomenoms surrounding these alluring
harbingers of spring
that intrigues me the most
is a symbiotic relationship called myrmecochory,
or "Ant Farming".
Ants are attracted to the seeds of certain species of spring bloomers because the seeds bear small protruberances called elaiosomes. These elaiosomes contain fatty food, attractive oils, and possibly sugars, and are considered to be a tasty treat if you are an ant. The ants carry the seeds into their nests, sometimes as far away as 70-75 yards, where they dine on this gourmet meal. But the seed shells are too hard to penetrate, and are cast off in an unused tunnel. Here, protected amid the nutrients in the soil, the seeds will germinate.
Among the species of spring ephemerals that encourage ants to collect their seeds are:
violets (Viola sp.)
Wood Anenome (Anenome cinquifolia)
Hepatica (Anenome Americana)
Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
Ground beetles and crickets also disperse trout lily seeds.
Purple Trillium (Trillium erectum)
Painted Trillium (Trillium undulatum)
as well as Bloodroot (Sanguuinaria canadensis),
and Wild Ginger (Asarum caudatum).
(Photos compliments of Little Sister, the "Holly" in KaHolly, my mentor.)
"Just what makes that little old ant, think he can move a rubber tree plant.........."