Structural characteristics of a giant tropical liana and its mode of canopy spread in an alien environment
To circumvent the practical difficulties in research on tropical rainforest lianas in their natural habitat due to prevailing weather conditions, dense camouflaging vegetation and problems in transporting equipment for experimental investigations, Entada pursaetha DC (syn. Entada scandens Benth., Leguminosae) was grown inside a research campus in a dry subtropical environment. A solitary genet has attained a gigantic size in 17 years, infesting crowns of semi-evergreen trees growing in an area rougly equivalent to 1.6 ha. It has used aerially formed, cable-like stolons for navigating and spreading its canopy across tree gaps. Some of its parts which had remained unseen in its natural habitat due to dense vegetation are described. The attained size of this liana in a climatically different environment raises the question as to why it is restricted to evergreen rainforests. Some research problems for which this liana will be useful are pointed out.