Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pau Formiga (Ant tree)

Triplaris or pau formiga is found in the baixadas (lowland areas) where water accumulates during the rainy seasons. It's called pau formiga (ant tree) because it hosts untold numbers of fierce red ants in its hollow trunks and branches. It's a symbiotic relationship between flora and fauna. Like some of the other ant plants described in the blog, the ants get very comfortable homes and the trees get protection. Not many rural workers like to clear these lands because they get eaten alive by the ants. As one field hand told me, when we cut these trees, we need leather clothes. From time to time I have to prune some of these trees around the bridge walkway and I can tell you that they're easy cutting but be careful with the ants. I find pruning shears the best because it's one fast cut without the high impact created by an axe or a machete. The more the tree is impacted, the more the ants get thrown onto the predator.

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