Monday, March 29, 2010

Trillium and Ants???

We have a several Trillium plants in our yard and I am alway happy to see them bloom.  They have a unique symbiotic relations ship with ants and sometimes mice, both of which are a common sight in the area.  When the seeds in the ovary of the Trillium are mature, the plant secrets a scent that attracts the ants who carry the seeds to their nest and keep them safe in the ant garbage pile for germination.  The Trillium is super sensitive to being disturbed and the recovery time from moving or picking the flower can take as long as seven years. Needless to say, the Trillium plants in the yard get to stay where they pop up.

I remember chaperoning a class of kindergartners on a field trip to a Wilderness Awareness field classroom and seeing the distress on one of the counselors faces when one of the kids triumphantly plucked the flower off a Trillium plant. The patient counselor then politely explained why that shouldn't be done. Luckily a lesson that was etched in my brain.

1 comment:

  1. At one point the trillium had been protected in Wisconsin along with the Jack-in-the-pulpit. Both had been all-too-frequently dug up by people who wanted them for their own gardens. Since their protection, they have thankfully made a comeback.

    I never knew about ants and trilliums - and about them being sensitive to being disturbed. I will keep that in mind if I ever get any for my own garden - which hopefully will be soon. They are beautiful.