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Phloeonomus looks at Leaf Sizes

No doubt you have read Martin Cody's interesting ideas on how species of the Protea family do not co-occur at the same site unless they have leaves of different sizes. You have not? Fancy that. Well, he says that proteas can only grow together if there leaves are different. So if he draws a picture of the leaf length and leaf width on a graph, then each species fits on a different place on the picture. And so, you are rearing to go! But, oh dear, the thought of having to measure all those leaf sizes is enough to make you want to go back to school. Protea Atlas Logo

Well, I was visiting dear old Hoplini, a monkey beetle. He is a good friend of mine, despite the fact that speaking to him is nearly impossible. He is obsessed with grabbing anyone who lands on "his flower" with his back legs and pushing them off "his flower". It is also very difficult to understand what he says because his head is always hidden inside "his flower" and he mumbles. So I sat on a nearby flower and chatted with him while he wrestled with five other monkey beetles, and chased away two flies, three bees and a butterfly.

Hoplini lives at Pella, near Atlantis on the west coast. I was telling him about Martin Cody's ideas, and how I was going to measure the leaves by counting how many steps it took to get from one side to the other, when he said: "Whai ond oo ub it!"

We thought this was a great idea and started right away. Hoplini had found a bit of carbon paper, which had blown off Koos's donkey cart while on his way to visit the schoolmaster. So we flew from Silkypuff to Pincushion to Protea to Conebush to Spiderhead and back again and soon we were finished. All we did was open our notebooks, put a leaf on the page we wanted the picture on, put the carbon paper between the leaf and the page and rub on the back of the page with a pencil. Easy hey! Oh, remember to put the black side of the carbon paper facing the page, otherwise you end up with a black leaf and no picture!

Here are my leaf pictures of all 11 species we found at Pella. I have arranged them around my graph of the leaves we measured. Hoplini chewed off the tip of my ruler so that it started at 0 mm: so I could just push the end against the stem and measure the length, without the hassles of having to check the zero end. I measure 20 leaves for each species, each leaf from a different plant. See! Cody's ideas work at Pella: do they work near you?

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