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Cecropia

CECROPIA, in botany, a genus of trees (natural order Moraceae), native of tropical America. They are of very rapid growth, affording a light wood used for making floats. C. peltata is the trumpet tree, so-called from the use made of its hollow stems by the Uaupé Indians as a musical instrument. It is a tree reaching about 50 ft. in height with a large spreading head, and deeply lobed leaves 12 in. or more in diameter. The hollows of the stem and branches are inhabited by ants, which in return for the shelter thus afforded, and food in the form of succulent growths on the base of the leaf-stalks, repel the attacks of leaf-cutting ants which would otherwise strip the tree of its leaves. This is an instance of "myrmecophily," i.e. a living together for mutual benefit of the ants and the plant.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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