Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ask The Ants

Symbiosis (sim-bee-OH-sis)- 1.The relationship of two different species to each other where each provides something the other cannot provide itself. 2. A relationship between two people where each person is dependant on, and receives reinforcement from the other.

This morning the green fists of the peonies are getting ready to break my heart
as the sun rises, and they open. Pools of lace, white and pink.
And all day the black ants climb over them.
Boring their deep and mysterious holes into the curls,
craving the sweet sap, taking it away to their dark, underground cities.

Do you also hurry, half dressed and barefoot, into the garden
and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness,
fill your arms with the white and pink flowers
with their honeyed heaviness,
their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment
before they are nothing, forever

Edited from the poem "Peonies" by Mary Oliver

If you've ever seen peony buds, then you've seen them literally covered with black ants. You can see in my first picture that the buds are very hard and tough, and they need help from the ants to chew off their hard covering and bloom. And in order to attract these ants, peonies give them something very special. It's called extrafloral nectaries, and it's like a super nectar, different from regular floral nectar. It's like a drug to these ants only, who can't resist it. And it's very beneficial to them. And while they are getting their nectar fix, they will protect it by aggressivly keeping away all other insects. So in return for this wonderful treat, the ants protect the peonies from destructive insects, and chew off the tough outer covering of the buds so they can bloom. A perfect symbiosis. It used to be thought that peonies could not bloom without the ants, but that has been found to be false. They can bloom without ants, but it is much harder. What strikes me about this is how it reminds me of our relationship with God. God can take away our tough outside and make us bloom so beautifully. I daresay even more beautiful than these peonies, because we have a choice. Who would not want to do what their maker put them on this earth for, what they were born to do? Just ask the ants.

"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people." Jer. 31:33


Bird Girl said...

I sure did learn something from this post! Several times in the past I have read that the peonies don't need the ants to bloom - and you confirmed that. BUT I never realized this unique relationship with the super nectar! How wonderful! And when is the last time you EVER saw a peony with a disease? Or being destroyed by insects? I would say I NEVER have. Really neat post, Ginny and you did a awesome job linking this info to our awesome God!

Stephanie V said...

Great post...I always knew that ants and peonies were a double act but not why.
But, my white peony has, in some years, had a sort of blight which unfortunately the ants can't control.

George said...

Thanks for the education. You've given us a wonderful example of symbiosis, complete with some great pictures. I also like the lessons you've drawn from this sybiosis.

Sandra said...

this info is way cool! I had not idea and did not know they were in little round balls. the photos are just beautiful. and the ants came out so clear to be so tiny. God knew what he was doing for sure when he created each little ant for a purpose. I still don't LIKE them but i like them better after this post

Glenda said...

This is one of my favorites of all your posts! Isn't God's plan for even the flowers and ants amazing? I learned something new from you again today!

I love the photos!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Interesting post, Ginny. I've never had Peonies even though I like them. SO---I didn't know about ants and Peonies. What an education I got today!!!! Thanks!!!

Love your thoughts on all of this too.

Kilauea Poetry said...

We just got agressive with the ants in our's such a problem, but I don't want to detract from your post..this was especially pretty as well as the macro..what a gorgous bloom! I enjoyed the way you weaved this together with the quote and verse -Its almost a picture of a slow grind with out the Lord- Amazing His creation..intriguing, I didn't know that about Peonies- great post Ginny!
I did leave another comment..anyway, thank you!!

SquirrelQueen said...

What a wonderful relationship the ants have with these beautiful flowers. I have never had peonies but a friend of mine did so I knew about the ants. But I didn't know how they interacted. I really enjoyed this post Ginny.

DawnTreader said...

I had no idea. I don't think we ever had peonies in any of our gardens (my childhood homes). Interesting post!

Joanne said...

This is sooo Beautiful!!!!! I have peonies and I always wondered why the ants were always in the flowers! I would cut the flowers to bring into the house and ants would come out all over the place. I used to think it so annoying but now I totally understand! I see it in a completely different way. Thank you Ginny for this great post! Blessings Joanne

Darlene said...

Beautiful post. When I was growing up, I always thought the ants were so annoying, and made it my job to knock them off the buds. And, now I know that it is all a part of God's plan. I won't be knocking the ants off anymore.