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Ant ferns - why are they called alike?


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#1 Guest_Andreas Eils_*

 
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Posted 24 April 2011 - 20:57 PM

Hi,

this may be a post dchasselblad is looking forward to. :smile:

I tried to get a good as possible look into the interior of two ant fern species:

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Lecanopteris sinuosa - longitudinal section of a rhizome
Looks like a cushioned lodging for the wanted inhabitants. The rhizomes of this species are narrow like elongated fingers and only 1 to 1.5 cm in diametre.

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A chamber branching off the main rhizome. It´s also comparatively small. I guess the ants housing in L. sinuosa must be the smallest among all fern ants. :smile:


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A profile of a L. curtisii rhizome. It has much thicker walls than L. sinuosa.

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For a sharper view of all the details I´d rather need a much better macro lens! A longitudinal section of a L. curtisii rhizome with channels and chambers.


I unfortunately don´t have the appropriate ants for these ferns...but on the other side I don´t wanna know what these ants would do with my other plants!!! :wink:


I hope, this has been a little enlightening for all the people who have wondered how ants dwell in ferns. :biggrin:


Cheers

Andreas

#2 johns

 
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Posted 24 April 2011 - 21:42 PM

Interesting, thanks for sharing. I'm another person here who likes ferns. How difficult are ant ferns to grow, are any suitable for windowsills?

#3 Guest_Andreas Eils_*

 
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Posted 24 April 2011 - 22:45 PM

Hi John,

the genus Lecanopteris is comparatively easy to cultivate though there is a difference between "lowland" and "highland" species. According to Andreas Wistuba where I have the most plants from the species covered with scales are suitable for window sill cultivation. L. sinuosa by all means is. L. crustacea as well. I´ve also tried L. lomarioides on a window sill but with moderate success. I don´t grow it but I´ve heard L. mirabilis is also suitable for window sill cultivation - but I cannot confirm this. They like bright light but no direct sunlight between 11 am to 3 pm I´d say.

All other species are better grown in a ventilated terrarium. L. curtisii is a relatively easy species I grow in my lowland Nepenthes tank. But it also grows in a cooler environment. L. balgooyi, L. holthumii and L. darnaedii are a little more demanding but I wouldn´t call them difficult. These prefer real highland conditions and a higher humidity.

L. carnosa and L. spinosa are probably the most demanding but so far I don´t grow them myself.

For a few weeks I have my first try in growing Solanopteris brunei. This is much more difficult than any Lecanopteris I think! But apart from the fact that a couple of leaves are decaying it is happily growing (in my lowland Nepenthes tank).

My soil mix is dried long fibred Chile or New Zealand sphagnum moss as the main compound. I add a little lava rock pieces, perlite (approx. 20%) and agro foam (10%). I grow all Lecanopteris in basket like plastic pots. So, roots are always supplied with much air. :smile: Antferns grow completely epiphytic so they dislike wet soil for a longer time. Soil should become barely moist before you water again. But of course bone dry soil has also to be avoided.

Most dangerous pests to ant ferns are snails and caterpillars which love the fronds or the rhizomes of the species without scales.

As I have no ants which could fertilise my ferns I give a few Osmocote pearls into the soil.

Good growing!

Andreas