Dischidia oiantha/Dischidia sp. ‘Geri’-Ant Plant

Dischidia oiantha ‘Geri’ on 8-25-12, #116-21.

Ant Plant
Dischidia sp. ’Geri’
Dischidia oiantha
dis-KID-ee-uh oh-ee-ANTH-a

Dischidia oiantha Schltr. is the correct and accepted name for this species and possibly for the cultivar known as ‘Geri’. The species was named and described by Friedrich Richard Rudolf Schlechter in Fragmenta Florae Philippinae in 1904. John Russell Perkins is listed as the “in author” which means he could have written the original description.

The genus Dischidia R.Br. was named and described by Robert Brown in Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society in 1811.

The species Dischidia oiantha is native to the Philippines. The genus as a whole is more widespread and you can click on the link to genus below for further information.

This is also one of the genera listed as being a member of the subfamily Asclepiadoideae which was the former family. Some sources still list it in this family. Either way, both families are the Milkweed Family.

I bought my Dischidia ‘Geri’ from Lowe’s in Greenville, Mississippi in 2012 while I was living at the mansion in Leland. The tag simply said Dischidia sp. ‘Geri’. At first, I thought this plant was a succulent because it has succulent-type leaves. I guess they are considered a succulent since there are many species listed on the Llifle (Encyclopedia of Living Forms) website, but not this particular species.

Online sources state this plant is easy to grow, but mine didn’t fare so well. Eventually, the leaves started dropping and it just slowly died.

One website said “Dischidia sp. ‘Geri’ (formerly Dischidia oiantha). I don’t know why they say “formerly” because that species is still an accepted name. I looked at photos online and Dischidia oiantha definitely looks like ‘Geri’ to me. Then again, many species in this genus look very similar. I am sure someday the folks doing the “genetic” testing will decipher this genus as well.

I like it when you do plant research and information varies from one source to another. The length of this plant varies from 6-to over 40’.

Interesting information about the genus Dischidia genus QUOTED from the Wikipedia article:

“Most Dischidia grow in arboreal ant nests of different species and some have developed a symbiotic relationship where the plant has developed modified leaves to either provide housing or storage. Of these, there are two types of modification to the leaves. Three species develop bullate leaves which are hollow root-filled structures. These are Dischidia complexDischidia major, and Dischidia vidalii. Both produce normal leaves in addition to the bullate leaves. These bullate leaves are formed when the outer margins of a leaf stop growing while the center of the leaf continues to grow. As time progresses the leaf margins curl under to close the gap which creates a small hole.

A number of species develop imbricate leaves which hold tightly to the growing surface. The underside of the leaf has a space which is filled with roots that the ants take advantage of. Examples of these species are Dischidia major, Dischidia astephana, Dischidia imbricata, and Dischidia platyphylla, but there are many more. Plants with this type of growth habit are sometimes called Shingle Plants, which are given this name because the leaves tend to overlap as they grow up or down the surface and give the appearance of shingles on a roof.”

USEFUL INFORMATION:
Family: Apocynaceae
Origin: Philippines (C. oiantha)
Zones: USDA Zones 10a-11 (35-40° F)
Size: 6’-10’ in length
Light: Light to part shade, some sites say sun
Soil: Average, well-drained soil
Water: Regular watering
Flowers: Produces yellow flowers in spring and summer.

Even though my Dischidia didn’t survive for long, it is a really nice plant for hanging baskets. Maybe you will do better.

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on the links below for further information:

FOR FURTHER READING:
PLANTS OF THE WORLD ONLINE (GENUS/SPECIES)
WIKIPEDIA (GENUS)
DAVE’S GARDEN
GARDENING KNOW HOW

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