Log in

Durango Botanic Gardens

Log in

  • Home
  • Contemporary Garden Discovery Points

Discovery Point


When two different species work together, each benefitting from the relationship, we call it mutualism.  One of the most evident forms of mutualism is that of bees and flowers.  Bees fly from flower to flower, gathering nectar, which they make into food.  When they land on the flower, pollen sticks to their hairy bodies.  Some of that pollen rubs off on the next flower, “pollinating the plant.” In this mutualistic relationship, the bees get to eat and the flower gets to reproduce.  Apples, oranges, avocados, and nuts are among the countless foods we eat thanks to mutualism. 

Ants crawling on peony buds is another example of mutualism. While gathering nectar from the bud, ants emit a trail of pheromones that directs other ants to the bud.  Those same ants protect the bud from pests by stinging or spraying them with acid then tossing them off the plant. To enjoy the “king of all flowers” there’s no need to brush off those ants or break out the insecticide. 

The Contemporary Garden’s two “kings,” fern leaf (Paenian tenufolia) and Itoh, (name?) display unique peony flower and foliage from early spring into summer.

Photo source:

Other examples of Mutualism

Pronuba moth and yucca - the moth’s larvae depend on the yucca’s seeds for flood, and the yucca plant can only be pollinated by the yucca moth, called pronuba moth. yucca seeds.

Trees and fungi - the roots of fungi, mycorrhiza, colonize the root tissues of specific tree species which enables them to absorb nutrients.  The trees in turn provide carbohydrates produced through

photosynthesis to fungi.

Simplified visual of species interactions within the fungal network.       Sourced originally at, image accessed at         

E.O Wilson, of Ants and Men

Nicknamed “Ant Man,” E.O. Wilson, (1929 - 2021) is the Pulitzer Prize winner and former Harvard University biologist whose studies of ant pheromones and human behavior made him one of the most influential scientists. His many seminal contributions to ecology fundamentally changed the way scientists approached many scientific disciplines.  For more information on his books and his passion for finding a more sustainable way for humans to live on Earth, view this special presentation on Wilson at PBS:

Stay Connected

Durango Botanic Gardens

Our Location:

The Durango Botanic Gardens are physically located at the Durango Public Library, to the north and east of the library.  The library is located at 1900 E. 3rd Ave., Durango.

There is no admission charge.  Stroll the gardens yourself (there is ample signage in most gardens) or call us at 970-880-4841 to arrange a group tour. See our Information Tab for more.

Contact Us:

10 Town Plaza, #460
Durango, CO  81301    

Phone:  970-880-4841

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software