The links to nature’s fragile networks are connected through a fine balance of dependence. Plants need polinators, predators and prey pit their skills of survival, and we humans depend on nature for her bounteous services for our very existence.

Though some relationships are a little more complex than others.  Take this beautiful inkblom flower (Harveya Capensis) it’s a cheat, a parasite feeding off other plant hosts by latching onto the roots or stems to absorb ready-made food.

Inkblom White Harveya

The erica plant below is one of the host species associated with inkbloom.


The dreaded Witches Tresses  (Cuscuta) is an invasive vine, wrapping tendrils round it’s host.  It produces haustoria which penetrate into the host’s vascular system and sucks out it’s lifeblood.

Witches Tresses Cuscuta

While parasitism harms the host,  a commensal, or a mutually cooperative relationship benefits one without detriment to the other.   As shown here through the compatibility of this ‘odd couple’, the Spoonbill stirs up the mud in the river bed with a ‘built-for-purpose’ broad bill, while the Sacred Ibis is on standby to pick up any crustaceans on the move.

The spoonbill and the ibis.

Inspired by this week’s  WordPress photo challenge topic “Connected”.

24 thoughts on “Connected

  1. Haha, thank you, Liz. When I wrote that story in verse about the creeper, people thought there was no such thing as Cuscuta. Maybe I can send them the link to this page now 🙂
    Beautiful post..

      1. Hahaha, true 🙂 (Gosh, you mean… ok, never mind.. all these connected people? you think we are all parasites in a way… online?? hahaha.. just kidding)..

  2. A lovely theme of connections here and beautiful photographs as always! There is a kind of mistletoe plant parasite in Australia that when it lives on a species of she-oak, resembles the foliage so much it is difficult to tell when the mistletoe starts and stops. Our giant rainforest strangler figs start off just as a tiny seed left in bird droppings high in the branch of another tree. It germinates and eventually takes over the original tree. I find parasitism and symbiotic relationships fascinating topics! 🙂

    1. Mimicry, that’s another of nature’s little tricks! Those strangler figs are like the apex predators of the pack, conquering the orginal host. It is a fascinating topic, one of my favourites is the symbiotic relationship between sea anemones which hitch-hike on the back of hermit crabs – a neat way to translocate for a sedentary creature.

    2. (Jane 😦 where have you been? Long time no new post hehe)..
      Yes, that thing you call a mistletoe is sort of over here too.. in fact, it is a species of mistletoe, but once it takes over, it is certainly death for the host..
      Amazing that you wrote all that.. and I had written a story on my blog with similar events etc.. 🙂 Nice to see you again, Jane.. (And, Liz, my apologies for barging in with my personal comments on your post).

  3. Nice post! – only natural networks are NOT fragile. They have immense adaptive power thank goodness, considering the trauma inflicted upon them by us humans. There are limits of course but with some care and sensitivity, we can ensure that natural systems will flourish along with ourselves. Mike

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for your comments. I was interested to note an article in the latest Veld and Flora that we hold the dubious distinction of “The Extinction Capital of the World”!! 1,709 species of plants in the Western Cape are threatened with extinction and we are losing species faster than any other place on the planet. Globally the species loss is happening at an unprecedented rate – estimated at 100 to 1000 times greater than that of the natural rate of extinction. The article goes on to point out that human actions are depleting Earth’s natural resources, putting such a stain on the environment that the ability of the Earth’s ecosystems to sustain future human generations simply is no longer possible at our current rate of utilisation. That ‘care and sensitivity’ that you refer to needs to be acted on very swiftly indeed! Take care, Liz.

  4. Liz, just off-topic.. but I hate this new theme.. it takes ages to load 😦 … you see that loader bar on top and nothing until everything has been cached.. hell on people with slow connections 🙂

      1. Thanks Liz… but I do overstep sometimes.. until someone calls “No ball” 🙂 But thank you… I don’t know if it is only me.. or if others have problem with that delayed caching and loading.. or maybe it is just because of the pathetic bandwidth I have over here..

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