Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Balanophora involucrata Hook.f. in Trans. Linn. Soc., London 22: 30, 44, tt. 4 - 7. 1856 & Fl. Brit. India 5: 237. 1886.

Plants monoecious or dioecious (inflorescences bisexual or unisexual), erect, fleshy, glabrous, yellowish white to yellow or red, 8 - 15 (-20) cm long from fusion point with host root; tubers in a mass, up to 10 cm in diam., branching from base; single tuber urceolate with more or less irregularly lobed rim, 3 - 5 x 1.5 - 2 cm. Stems stout, bursting through the rootstock, sheathed halfway by 2 - 4 verticillate scaly leaves in one whorl at the middle of the stem, partially connate, ovate, 2 - 3 x 1 - 1.5 mm. Spadices unisexual or bisexual, ovoid or subglobose, 2 - 3.5 x 1 - 2 cm, red or yellow. Male flowers in bisexual spadices confined to a zone of about 5 mm high, just below the female portion or when unisexual, the spadices ovoid, 1 - 3.5 x 0.9 - 3.5 cm; bracts short, truncate or in unisexual flowers connate together, forming more or less hexagonal alveoles from the bottom of which male flowers appear; pedicels 2 - 7 mm long; perianth limb lobes 3 (4 or 5), broadly ovate-obtuse, ca 1.7 mm long, thick; synandrium subglobose, much depressed; anthers 4, transversely oblong. Female flowers: spadices ovoid, 1 - 2 x 0.8 - 2; spadicles obconical; flowers on main rachis of inflorescences only, numerous, interspersed with globulate or clavate bracts, 0.5 - 0.8 mm long; cuticular ridges on top cells narrow, forming complicated labyrinth-like system; ovary ovoid, compressed, ca 0.2 mm long; largest flowers with pistils up to 700 μm long; carpels ca 200 μm long.

Fl. June - Oct., Fr. July - Dec.

Distrib. India: Cool montane coniferous forests, 1500 - 4500 m on Himalayas from Kashmir to NE. India and Peninsular India.

Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, China to E. Asian subcontinent.

Notes. Parasitic on Acer spp., Araliaceae, Berberis spp., Rhododendron spp., Quercus spp., Pinus spp., Rubus spp., etc. The rootstock forms large woody knots on tree roots, which find use for making drinking cups in Bhutan and Sikkim.

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