THE MONKEY LADDER - Entada gigas

Image credit - Paul Hermann Wilhelm Taubert (1862-1897)

The Monkey Vine -  Entada gigas, also commonly known as the monkey-ladder, Cœur de la Mer or Sea Heart, is a species of flowering liana from the pea family, Fabaceae. A liana is a long-stemmed, woody vine which is rooted in the soil at ground level and uses trees, as well as other means of vertical support, to allow it to grow up through the canopy to get access to well-lit areas of the forest.

The Monkey Vine -  Entada gigas,
It is notable for having the largest seed pods of any member of the pea family, measuring and impressive 12 cm across and up to 2 metres in length. Inside each pod can be between ten and fifteen seeds, each of which has a diameter of 6 cm and a thickness of 2 cm. Each seed contains a hollow cavity, which gives them buoyancy. After being washed into rivers by heavy rain, the seeds eventually reach the ocean where they drift long distances on ocean currents. The success of its ability to travel the seas has given it an enormous global range. It is native to Central America, the Caribbean, northern South America, and Africa.

Growing towards the light, the monkey ladder can grow extremely and like some other vigorous climbers has the ability to entangle trees. In Gabon, one individual has been discovered with a stem diameter of over 30 cm and straddling 13 tree canopies to reach gaps covering a distance of several hundred metres.

Seed buoyancy and vitality lasts at least two years.

Paul Hermann Wilhelm Taubert image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.

In text image credit - CC BY-SA 3.0,

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