Like an ant on a banana orchid

While their older brother, sisters and cousins were “peeling” across the Caribbean Sea on a banana boat, Devon and Ryan were overjoyed to learn that they would get to visit the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve near Tulum to learn about the different ecosystems of the Yucatan peninsula. They bounded with unbridled joy from our adorable beach cabana to wait in the heat and humidity for the tour van.devonready.jpgOur open-air boat motored quickly through canals used by the ancient Mayans as well as various lagoons, our guide stopping periodically to point out birds or plants that might be of interest to us. One particularly engaging stop was for the banana orchid.

The banana orchid is an epiphyte, a plant that lives on another plant without damaging its host as a parasite would. The banana orchid’s pseudo-bulbs (the banana-y looking things) play host to nests of stinging ants. The ants feed on the nectar of the orchid and protect the plant from other insects and pollinate it in return. An endless parade of ants marched up and down the stem of the orchid, ignoring us as we all smelled the slight scent of banana surrounding the blooms.banana-orchid.jpg
Amazingly, a nearly identical species of banana orchid is endemic to the Cayman Islands. Still an epiphyte, but living on different trees and aided in pollination by the tree itself. Nary an ant in sight.

To me this is an astounding example of adaptation and the bounty of the natural world. I guess every living thing strives to survive, no matter the circumstance, and hopes for a little cooperation from its fellow beings. There is no right way. No singular path. We can hammer out a workable existence using the resources that surround us.

2 thoughts on “Like an ant on a banana orchid

  1. Marie, I’ve been enjoying your travel blogs with admitted wanderlust and a degree of envy. Like a calendar photo that’s so appealing you never want to turn the month, these seemingly simple blogs are a recollection that we each have a sense of awe to discover (always), and that, too, is worth protecting, propagating, and allowing to exist, in everyone.

    Title, and the last paragraph written in the tract above are exquisite!

  2. Thank you, 13th, for your kind words. We all have our travel stories….travel changes our perspective in a way that few experiences can. I torture my kids with grueling cross country trips knowing that one day those will be the times that shaped them. Opened them. Memories come hard.

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