Marshall University Herbarium
Dr. Emily Gillespie
Vascular plants of West Virginia with seed dispersal by ants.
Myrmecochorous plants (plants that have seeds dispersed by ants), are widespread across the Angiosperms. A characteristic feature of myrmecochorous plants is the elaiosome, a lipid rich structure that is fed to ant larvae. This is not always present in myrmecochorous plants, with some taxa adapting psuedo-elaiosomes, which gives these plants a dispersal agent at little energy cost to them. Several mymecochorous taxa are found in West Virginia, with thousands of records of these taxa appearing in the Marshall University Herbarium. The goal of this expedition is to transcribe these records, so that ecological and historical information about these plants may be freely accessed by researchers.