An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Myrmecochory: Seed Dispersal by Ants

8-6-14  myrmecochory 014As a dispersal mechanism, some plants have fatty structures called elaiosomes attached to their seeds’ coats which are very appealing to ants. After collecting a seed and carrying it back to its underground nest, the ant eats the elaiosome (or feeds it to ant larvae) and discards the intact seed in an area where waste and dead ant bodies are stored. Germination is highly likely in such an ideal environment, making myrmecochory a win-win situation. Trillium, bloodroot and violets are some of the thousands of plants that have elaiosomes attached to their seeds.

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4 responses

  1. Libby Hillhouse

    So this helps explain why violets and trillium are so prolific in my garden!? Nice.

    August 8, 2014 at 11:45 am

  2. Wow! Plants can be so smart!

    August 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

  3. Kathie Fiveash

    How perfectly evolution makes things work together!

    August 8, 2014 at 9:51 pm

  4. Now I know why I have a million violets!

    August 11, 2014 at 1:22 am

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