Observation # 78 and 79

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It can be very confusing to look at this plant with so many different textures and leaves. Broad leaves, cactus leaves, spiked leaves, colorful narrow leaves, tiny leaves all growing from the tree. What was going on with this plant?

I had to stop and try to uncover the mystery of the puzzle. First, I looked at the leaves that were so dominant. There were at least 7 leaf types. So, I guessed that there was more than one plant here. Next, I looked at the major portion of what appeared to be the main stem of a tree rooted with strong attachment to the soil. This I assumed to be the trunk of the tree. I also looked at the crown of the tree which was ill defined. Lastly, I looked at the outer surface of the main tree stem. I also saw that there was a network of vines attached to the bark of the tree trunk and its various spreading branches. There were three vine types that I could be distinguished by the types of attachment to the tree and by leaf types. There were three other types of leaf plants that were attached to the tree without vines or roots attached to the ground. These were air plants.

This was not one plant but instead was a close-knit community of plants using a larger tree as support. This in turn was also supporting a variety of otherliving things like insects and lichens. 

This relationship appeared to be in place for a very long time. The supportive tree did not appear to be in any distress but may be 50 to 80 years old. That is a long time for an urban deciduous tree. The trunk diameter at 4 ft from the soil was about 6 feet. The height was about 35 feet. The broken upper branches appear to be signs of trauma probably from hurricane force winds. 

If the dependent plants get nutrition from the supporting plant the relationship of these plants may be symbiotic. It will be interesting to see if the community is connected as a network of links. It may be an instance where some plants are able to express themselves with one another beyond nutrition. Below are a few references on interplant communications.1,2 These include micro-rhizomes, electrical potentials, pheromones, and shared nutrients. This puzzle may lead us to a much more profound discussion of symbiotic, saprophytic, biomechanic and other interdependencies.


  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvBlSFVmoaw
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Un2yBgIAxYs


#dependent #saprophytic # symbiotic #attachment #interplant communication #plants

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