Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lickety-splits

The Bracken Ferns are unfurling their leaves. 
 Here is a photo of a Bracken Fern that is a little further along. 
 Soon there will be a knee deep sea of green in many patches throughout the forest.
 If you look closely you will see the Bracken guards are watching.
 The ants are busy scurrying all over the Bracken stems presumably guarding the bracken against intruders like herbivorous insects.
 What does the ant get in return for this service?  The bracken fern has extrafloral nectaries at the bases of the major branches of the leaves. These sweet stops secrete nectar that attract and reward the ants. This relationship is one example of ant-plant mutualism.
 You could call those sweet stops, "lickety-splits".

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