Schomburgkia Exaltata

Most of the Schomburgkia, but not all, had a very unique characteristic. Their pseudobulbs were hollow. Ants would create nests in the dead bulbs and form a symbiotic relationship with the Orchid. In return for the orchid providing a home for the ants, the ants would destroy parasites that would attack the orchid. The ants, fortunately, are not necessary for the plants to be healthy in your home. All the plants in the old Schomburgkia family looked a lot alike. The flower spikes would be several times the size of the plant often 6-8 feet long. The flowers were curly and  concentrated at the end of the long flower spike. Mostly they formed a ball around the end of the spike. These hollow bulb plants were moved to a new family Myrmecophila. This loosely means ‘friends of ants’.  These plants grow throughout the Caribbean. Some are endemic to only one island.  Mothers will, in some countries, create a horn out of the hollow bulb, with which they wowould call their children home for meals. In the American old west, mothers would ring cow bells to call her family to dinner. Mothers are resourceful. They use whatever works.   Some of the orchids in the old Schomburgkia classification had solid pseudobulbs.  These have been moved to the family Laelia.

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