Understanding the Connection between Bleeding Heart Plants and Ants

Ants consume the white parts of the seeds of bleeding heart plants and disperse them to areas where the plants grow. Without the ants, the seeds would not germinate. Ants are crucial to the life of the bleeding heat plants. The elaiosme provides food for the ants and their young.

Pacific bleeding plants produce shiny, black seeds with white blobs that the ants eat. The ants move the seeds to their burrows, and the plants grow there. The ant eats the white strands leaving the seeds to germinate, there. The plants produce beautiful reddish purple blossoms.

Elaiosome is the white blob that has an oily material that ants love to eat. It is not only oily; it is sticky and easy for the ants to move around. It contains the compounds that ants find satisfying. Ants either eat the elaisosme or leave it for their young. The ants disperse other plants, as well.

Dispersal for the seeds happens when the ants leave their scents as they drag the seeds toward their hills. Ants make it possible, for the bleeding heart plants, to grow. The dispersal by the ants keeps the plants from overcrowding their parents or other seeds. The seeds would grow below the parent and consume the water and food, there without help from the ants. The seedlings might even uproot the parent plant. The ants help to spread out the plants.

Pacific bleeding heart plants provide pain relief for many people. People make the plant juice into a tincture or hot compress.

Both, the plants and the ants, live in the moist forest. Moisture keeps them refreshed and alive. The moisture also aids in growing the plants. Moisture is a necessary ingredient in attracting ants to an area to help in the propagation of bleeding heart plants.

To see this process of seed dispersal in action: collect some of the bleeding heart seeds and place them around the ants. Then, watch as an ant picks it a seed and carries it back to its nest. Other worker ants will join in the process of carrying away additional seeds if they are there. An ant trail will ensue.

Ants and bleeding heart plants are both key members of their ecosystems and the health of the forest. The forest provides the soil where the ants live. Ants germinate the bleeding hearts in the forest. The plants, in turn, feed them and other wild creatures, especially insects. In addition, the plants provide medicine and beauty for humans.