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Balanophora J.R. Forst. & G. Forst.

Herbaceous root parasites, monoecious or dioecious (inflorescences bisexual or unisexual), glabrous; rhizome simple or branched, often stellate warty; stems breaking through rootstock within a short cupular sheath. Leaves 2 - 40, whorled, opposite, distichous or spirally arranged, scale-like, sessile by a broad base, accrescent upwards. Inflorescences spadix-like, terminal, enveloped by topmost leaves or not. Male flowers: inserted on the main rachis in axils of short wide truncate bracts, pedicelled; sepals 3 - 5, usually 4, free, valvate in bud, later patentreflexed; stamens 3 - 5, opposite to tepals or several entirely connate into an ovoid globose or flattened column; filaments short; anthers free or connate; anther-thecae linear, vertical. Female flowers: on numerous crowded minute lateral spadicels, mixed with club-shaped bodies; sepals absent; ovary 1-loculed; ovule 1, pendulous; style 1, slender; stigma terminal, small. Fruits minute, crustaceous, indehiscent, nut-like; seeds globose, adhering to pericarp; embryo subglobose, consisting of only 2 or 3 cells.

Madagascar to Japan, S. & S.E. Asia to Australia and Polynesia, in tropical to temperate areas, ca 15 species; 7 in India.

Literature. GRIFFITH, W. (1846). On the Indian species of Balanophora and on a new genus of the family Balanophoraceae. Trans. Linn. Soc. London 20: 93 - 108, tt. 3 - 8. HANSEN, B. (1972). The genus Balanophora J.R. Forster & G. Forster - A taxonomic monograph. Dansk. Bot. Ark. 28: 1 - 188, ff. 1 - 44, tt. 1 - 8. MURATA, J. (1988). Morphology and distribution of Balanophora fungosa J.R. et G. Forst. (Balanophoraceae). J. Jap. Bot. 63: 201 - 210, illus.


1 a. Plants monoecious, male and female flowers in the same inflorescence 2
b. Plants dioecious, male and female flowers in different inflorescences 4
2 a. Leaves 2 - 4, more or less connate at base, in one whorl at midrib of stem; male flowers mostly 3-merous; anthers transversely opening 6. Balanophora involucrata
b. Leaves 6 - 12, free in 2 or more rows above the stem; male flowers 4 - 5- merous; anthers longitudinally opening 0
3 a. Leaves distichous; male flowers sessile, bisymmetric or zygomorphic 1. Balanophora abbreviata
b. Leaves spirally arranged, rarely opposite; male flowers pedicellate 3. Balanophora fungosa
4 a. Specimens with male flowers only (flowers at proximal and distal parts of inflorescences not typically developed) 5
b. Specimens with female flowers only 9
5 a. Male flowers mostly 3-merous; anthers 3, transversely opening 6
b. Male flowers mostly 4 - 6-merous; anthers united into a conspicuous synandrium; thecae longitudinally opening, in some species many times transversely divided 7
6 a. Leaves verticillate, in one whorl or more or less connate 6. Balanophora involucrata
b. Leaves opposite, decussate, rarely spirally arranged, never verticillate 4. Balanophora harlandii
7 a. Male flowers zygomorphic, 4- or 6-merous, rarely 5- or 7 - 14-merous; lateral tepals narrow, acute, median tepals wide, truncate 7. Balanophora polyandra
b. Male flowers actinomorphic, 4- or 5-merous, rarely 3- or 6-merous; tepals all acute or obtusely acute 8
8 a. Sepals ovate; synandrium hemispherical; leaves distichous or some-times apparently spirally arranged 2. Balanophora dioica
b. Sepals oblong-elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate; synandrium elongated, oblong-elliptic, slightly obconical and somewhat compressed in anterior-posterior direction; leaves always spirally arranged 5. Balanophora indica
9 a. Leaves whorled or opposite and decussate 10
b. Leaves distichous or spirally arranged 11
10 a. Leaves 3 in a whorl, about the middle of the stem, more or less connate 6. Balanophora involucrata
b. Leaves 6 - 12, opposite and decussate 7. Balanophora polyandra
11 a. Leaves distichous, densely imbricate 2. Balanophora dioica
b. Leaves spirally arranged, not densely imbricate 12
12 a. Spadicles without flowers in lower part 4. Balanophora harlandii
b. Spadicles with flowers in lower part 13
13 a. Female inflorescences ovoid, stem short 7. Balanophora polyandra
b. Female inflorescences otherwise shaped, stem various 14
14 a. Female inflorescences mostly ellipsoid, basal flowers with style 2.5 - 3 (- 3.5) times longer than ovary 2. Balanophora dioica
b. Female inflorescences depressed-spherical, spherical, obovoid or ellipsoid; basal flowers with style (3.5 -) 4 - 5 times longer than ovary 3. Balanophora fungosa

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