Story and pictures copyright © 2000 Julia Hazel
Endangered Ant Plants need a Break - Page 3

According to the experts, the plants we were concerned about are Myrmecodia platytyrea (the experts updated their identification - previously I had been told they were M. tuberosus) one of about few species of ant plants in Australia. All of them are restricted to tropical north east Queensland, as far as I know. Some or all -- I can't find detailed info on this -- have an important role in the survival of certain species of ants and butterflies, and the ant plants are now increasingly threatened by clearing of their natural habitat.

Ant plants are epiphytes and normally grow on the branches and trunks of trees, particularly paperbark and mangrove trees. At only very few locations in Australia are they known to grow on rocks, and we were working to protect one of these locations.

Along the way to work in different areas each day, we had the benefit of the Ranger's wealth of knowledge about trees, birds, snakes and the environment around us.

The opportunity to see such lovely country, seldom visited and quite inaccessible except by hardy footsloggers, was a real treat as far as I was concerned.

Despite rain, fickle fires (sometimes refusing to burn, other times threatening to get out of control), tick bites, leech bites, mozzie bites and more blisters than you'd ever want to count, the motley crew completed the return hike still smiling and still talking to each other.

Story and pictures copyright © 2000 Julia Hazel

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