Guarumo Cecropia Tree in Symbiotic Relationship with Ants

Guarumo Cecropia tree in my front yard

Guarumo leaves are some of the most interesting in the tropics.

When my personal gardener told me the Guarumo tree would attract Toucans with the seeds, I told him I wanted one! And I have it! It grows naturally only in Central America and is one of several kinds of Cecropia trees. I panicked this week when I saw a stream of tiny ants crawling up and down the trunk of the tree and called Cristian for help! He stopped by after another job today and explained that this ant is the friend of this tree. They help each other in a symbiotic relationship, providing food and housing for the ants who in turn protect the tree from leaf-eating predators. It was also used by Amerindians for medicinal purposes and is now used by pharmaceutical companies.

All of the cecropia trees are the favorite food of sloths, so you most often see photos of sloths in large cecropia trees, but not usually the Guarumo though. Mine will have to be a lot larger to hold either a toucan or sloth! Right now it is just a special kind of symbiotic ants! It not only looks cool, but is a great lesson in working together with smaller, sometimes hated creatures!

A sustainable world means working together to create prosperity for all.
~Jacqueline Novogratz

And by the way, I just this moment realized that today is my 6 month anniversary in Costa Rica! I moved here December 24, 2014. I’m glad I came! Maybe I will eventually figure out a symbiotic relationship with Costa Rica.  🙂