PLANTS/ANTS INFO NEEDED

Mike Hardman mike at ionia.demon.co.uk
Mon Aug 21 19:51:31 EST 1995


Bryan,
Several times I have come across references to ants taking seeds of violets 
and other plants into their nests (from wherever they happen to find them), supposedly to 
eat some part of it.  In the case of Viola species, there is an oily attachment (called an 
eliasome) which serves this purpose.  This obviously accomplishes dispersal for the violet, 
so long as the seeds germinate - and one aspect of the theory is that by taking the seeds 
underground, the ants save the seeds from being seen and eaten by birds etc. and provide a
bare patch of earth relatively free from vegetative competition.  But there seem to be quite a 
few provisos, which I have not heard adequate explanations for - like the seeds not being 
buried too deeply.  Personally, I also can't help noticing the similarity of the eliasome to 
ants' 'eggs' or pupae - you know when you damage an ant hill how keen the ants are to 
move the exposed 'eggs' back under ground...  I have tried placing eliasome-bearing Viola 
seeds in ants' paths but have not yet seen one pick it up and run off with it.  But other 
colleagues say they have. 
If you discover or confirm anything to do with ants and violets, please email me; thanks.
 
s336036 at student.uq.edu.au (Bryan Finney) wrote:
>I'm currently doing an assignment on the relationships between ants and 
>plants and would be grateful if someone could send me some information on 
>the topic, or some places where I could look.

Mike Hardman;  Aldershot, Hampshire, UK
 Photographer:  Natural history, Landscapes, +
 Writer:  Botany, Sci-Fi, +
 Computer(?):  Database Consultant, Mac, Unix, VMS





More information about the Plantbio mailing list