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The bull’s horn acacia is a tree that grows in South America. To deter grazing animals, the acacia has a pair of fearsome thorns, about 5 cm long and joined at the base. A queen ant bores a hole near the tip, just big enough to allow her to crawl into the hollow base and lays her eggs. When the worker ants are born, they come out to eat up any insects that may land on the acacia's leaves and stems.
The ants also depend on the nectar exuded from glands underneath the acacia's leaf stalks all year round. Small fat-rich orange beads on the tips of the leaflets also provide a nutritious meal for the ant larvae.
The acacia is rewarded for its hospitality in more ways than one.

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Pests are devoured, of course, but the ants also travel regularly down the acacia’s trunk and chew up seedlings of other plants that have dared to grow inside a 30-cm radius surrounding the tree. Neither is any plant allowed to even touch the acacia from above! The ants cross over to the offending tree and attack the rogue branch so severely that it dies.



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