It is Fascination of Plants Day! I welcome you to one more view of the leaf of the fascinating tropical Cecropia, also known as Embaúba. I have added it to my “Dry Leaf” image series, dedicated to portraying the beauty of leaves that are past their prime.
What is fascinating about the Cecropia? These pioneer successional trees are myrmecophylous, which means that they have an association with ants. They house the ants in their hollows and segmented stem, providing them with food. Usually, a single Azteca ant colony inhabits each mature Cecropia tree. The ants, in turn, protect the trees from predators and remove climbing lianas and other plants that compete with the Cecropia for light.
Cecropia trees are ideal for sloth viewing, because they have more space between their leaves than some denser trees of the rainforest canopy. Common knowledge says that sloths have a preference for this fascinating tree. Humans have been know to use the Cecropia for sandpaper, wood, animal fodder, eating the fruit, tobacco substitute, shade, making flutes, and composting material.
Digging my archives from my trip to Brazil last year, I found a photo of a Cecropia tree. Because these trees are tall, and are often immersed in the Atlantic Forest, they are not easy to photograph. However, by the road of the family house, there is one especial tree that I was able to photograph from below. I find the radial arrangement of the leaves of this tree quite fascinating.
If you are new to this blog, and have not been introduced to my project Dry Leaf (Folhas Secas)“, you can find my previous posts on it on this link. My posts include some tips on how I make these types of photographs, and also how I manage my files in a large project like this one. The fascinating leaf of the Cecropia is what inspired me to endeavor to photograph dry leaves in the first place, and it remains my favorite leaf of all.
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