Sunday, June 1, 2014

Squirrel Corn - Dicentra canadensis - Dicentre du Canada

This post is a companion to yesterday's post about D. cucullaria. Dicentra canadensis (squirrel corn, fr: dicentre du Canada), like D. cucullaria, is toxic. Both, interestingly, exhibit an unusual seed dispersal method called myrmecochory, which is seed dispersal by ants. The seeds of both plants have a fatty & proteinaceous deposit (an elaiosome), which attracts the ants as food. The ants collect the seeds, bring them to their colonies, consume the elaiosomes, and deposit the rest in the colony trash heap, where the seeds are comparatively protected and free to germinate.

D. canadensis inflorescence
D. canadensis, like D. cucullaria, is pollinated by Bombus spp. queens, the only insect pollinators strong enough to separate the outer petals of the corolla and access the nectar.

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