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Thorns and more

​The desire to attract or repel animals including insects occurs readily outside of rainforest habitats, but many unique and highly specific examples only occur within them.

Plant defence responses against predation include spines and thorns, toxic compounds produced in leaves, brightly coloured new growth intended to ward off herbivores, or even multiple flushes of leaves that are timed to coincide or avoid particular stages of insect or animal life cycles.

Besides warding off animals, plants also have mechanisms to attract them, such as the odours (for example, those produced by carnivorous plants), or the offer of protection and habitat (for example, those produced by ‘Ant Plants’).

Thorns help with climbing by latching on to higher objects - Zoe-Joy Newby

An ant plant, Myrmecodia sp. - Zoe-Joy Newby

An ant inhabiting an ant plant - Zoe-Joy Newby

Thorns on stem help to prevent preditors from climbing up plants - Zoe-Joy Newby

Leaves of the Giant Stinging Tree, Dendrocnide excelsa - Maurizio Rossetto

The serious plant defences of Calamus, also known as lawyer cane - Maurizio Rossetto