September 29, 2009
Myrmecodia platytyreaThe genus name Myrmecodia is derived from the Greek myrmekodes, meaning ant-like or full of ants. Myrmecodia is native to Northwest coast of Borneo, East Malaysia, New Guinea, and North Australia, Myrmecodia platytyria grows in tree branches and on trunks. It develops a grotesque, somewhat spiny tuber at its base that helps it form a symbiotic relationship with ants. The tissue inside this specialized organ dies off in such a way as to form chambers and small airways for ventilation, providing an ideal habit to house ant colonies. But this is not a free ride for the ants; either by dying or defecating they bring nutrients to the plant, helping it to grow.
(top) Myrmecodia platytyria on display in the Tropical Greenhouse. (bottom) Cutaway view of a Myrmecodia tuber showing chambers
drawing courtesy of
It is thought that the established ant colony also helps to protect the plant from insects, but there are conflicting studies. One study looking at another type of ant plant in the Amazon found that after removing ants, the plant was 4.3 times more likely to have herbivorous (plant eating) insects on them compared to plants with ants; however a University of Connecticut study found that ant-plants are more susceptible to a number of common pests such as scale and mealy bugs because of the ants behavior of ‘farming’ these pests on the plants that host them. The Arboretum has a Myrmecodia platytyria on display in the Tropical Greenhouse.
September 14, 2009
Coach Barn Ramps and Finials Restored
In August, work was completed on the restoration of the Coach Barn Ramps and finials. Badly deteriorated with two finials missing from each side, the ramps were in a sad state and detracted from the charm of the structure. A very high style barn, the Arboretum's Coach Barn housed the horses that pulled Elias J. Baldwin's carriages and those of visiting guests. The barn is lined with strips of clear Port Orford Cedar and Redwood, fitted with decorative cast iron stalls for the horses and still houses Baldwin's Tally Ho carriage.
September 2, 2009
What’s Blooming September
Spider lilies (Lycoris sp.)
Specimens of the genus Lycoris, commonly called 'Spider lilies' bloom amidst the mass plantings of Amaryllis belladonna that surrounds them just across from the Southwest corner of the African section. Crimson Lycoris radiata contrasts with white flowered Lycoris albiflora.
African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata)
Several specimens of the African tulip tree, Spathodea campanulata, are located at the top of Tallac Knoll. Spathodea has bright orange and yellow flowers that, in its much wetter West African native range, are an emergency source of fresh water for people and animals. Spathodea wood has been used for musical insturnments, and its flowers have been used in religious rituals. In tropical areas where it has been accidently introduced Spathodea is extreamly invasive, and is considered to be one of the top 100 invasive plants on earth; no need to worry about it becoming a pest here -Southern California is much to dry to support wild populations of Spathodea.
September 1, 2009
Annual Members’ Meeting
The Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden will host its Annual Members' Meeting on Saturday, September 26 from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM in the heart of the historic section. This year's meeting will feature a special keynote address by new CEO Richard Schulhof, “A Look to the Future.”
The meeting begins with a continental breakfast, followed by a review of The Arboretum's accomplishments during the last fiscal year. Stay after the meeting for docent lead tours of the historic buildings.
For more information and to reserve your tickets click here.