Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Arceuthobium minutissimum Hook. f., Fl. Brit. India 5: 227. 1886.

Minute stem parasites without any visible stem, appearing as green or brown pustules on the bark of the host, the inconspicuous stem ramifies inside the bark tissue, which rarely project above the surface for only up to 3 mm length; staminate plants yellow green; pistillate plants greenish, usually about twice as long as the staminate plants; primary branches many, arising from basal cups, without secondary branching; joints up to 2 mm long; sheaths minute, 2- toothed. Shoots: basal portions of the dominant shoots ca 1 mm in diam.; third internodes 0.5 - 1.4 mm long, 0.3 - 1 mm wide; flower-branches piercing the epidermis of the host and appearing as minute 2-lipped cups. Male flowers: sessile in the cup, 2 - 2.5 mm across; perianth mostly (3 -) 4 (- 5)-merous, free; lobes ca 0.8 x 0.8 mm; anthers 0.4 - 0.5 mm across. Female flowers: pedicellate; perianth slightly bifid. Fruits on minute branches composed of 2 joints, berries, 2 - 2.5 x 1 - 1.5 mm, with persistent perianth on its tip.

Fl. & Fr. June - Oct.

Distrib. India: Western Himalayas, usually in the dry regions in Upper and Lower Bashahr and Kulu in Himachal Pradesh and in the four divisions of Kashmir.

Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan.

Hosts. So far reported only on Pinus wallichiana, Abies pindrow and Cedrus deodara.

Notes. J. D. Hooker (l. c.) while describing this plant mentioned that it is the minutest plant that he could recollect. The principal host of this plant is Pinus wallichiana. This plant causes considerable damage by killing the top of the blue pine saplings of about 1.8 meters high. It is also observed that the plant is parasitic on younger portions, probably due to the difficulty in penetrating the thick bark of the older portions. No medicinal importance has been attributed to this species. The dissemination of the plant occurs by bursting of its ripe fruits and ejecting the seeds.

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