Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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N. P. Balakrishnan

Herbs, holoparasitic, glabrous, fleshy with tuberous root-stocks, without chlorophyll and roots, parasitic on roots of trees; stems short, erect, attached by suckers to host root and at the point of contact a cylindrical or subspherical branched or unbranched solid tuber develops. Leaves absent or scale-like. Flowers: minute, actino-morphic or zygomorphic, unisexual, in monoecious or dioecious, globose, ellipsoid or clavate, many-flowered simple or branched spadices, intermixed with bracts or hairs; peduncles stout, simple, annual, arising from tuberous annual or perennial rootstocks. Male flowers: pedicellate or sessile; perianth absent or present, subentire, or (2 -) 3 - 4 (- 8)-lobed; tepals valvate in bud, later spreading and often reflexed, free or connate into a narrow tube shortly split at apex; stamens 3 - 5 or many; filaments absent or fleshy, free or united into a column; anthers connate into a many-loculed head; locules dehiscing by pores or valves or irregularly. Female flowers: sessile, not supported by bracts; perianth absent or shortly 2 - 3-lipped and adnate to ovary, minutely toothed; ovary 1 - 3-loculed; ovule solitary in each cell, pendulous; styles 2 or 1, slender or absent; stigma simple or capitellate. Fruits small, nut-like, 1-seeded achene, indehiscent, crusta-ceous; seed adherent to pericarp; testa thin, rarely thick or absent; embryo minute, undivided; endosperm copious, oily, densely granular.

Tropical and subtropical regions of the world, mostly in upland forests, 18 genera and ca 44 species; 2 genera and 8 species in India.

Literature. HANSEN, B. (1976). Balanophoraceae. In: C.G.G.J. van Steenis (ed.). Fl. Malesiana I, 7: 783 - 805, ff.1 -26. NASIR, Y. J. (1980). Balanophoraceae. In: Nasir, E. & S. I. Ali (eds). Flora of Pakistan 135: 1 - 3.


1 a. Monoecious or dioecious; stems of inflorescences bearing scale-like leaves; young spadices not enveloped by floral bracts; flowers not mixed by hairs; perianth of male flowers 3 - 5- lobed; stamens 3 - 5 or many, connate into an ovoid-globose or flattened column; style1 1. Balanophora
b. Dioecious; stems of inflorescences leafless or sometimes warted; young spadices tightly enclosed by marginally cohering broad peltate floral bracts; flowers mixed by hairs; perianth of male flowers entire or 3-lobed; stamens 3, forming an elongated column; styles 2 2. Rhopalocnemis

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