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FOC | Family List | FOC Vol. 5 | Balanophoraceae

2. Balanophora J. R. Forster & G. Forster, Char. Gen. Pl. 50. 1775.

蛇菰属 she gu shu

Balanophora fargesii

Credit: Harvard University Herbaria

Balania Tieghem; Polyplethia (Griffith) Tieghem.

Plants monoecious or dioecious. Rhizome branched or unbranched, containing sticky wax (balanophorin), smooth or rugose with small scaly warts and/or stellate lenticels. Leaves opposite, alternate and distichous or spiral, or whorled, sessile, fleshy or scale-like. Inflorescences spadixlike, cylindric, ellipsoid, ovoid-globose, or globose, enlarged after anthesis. Male flowers: pedicellate or sessile, subtended by U-shaped or variously reduced bracts. Perianth 3-6-lobed; lobes ovate, lanceolate, or orbicular, concave, isomorphic or heteromorphic, valvate, reflexed at anthesis. Stamens in a hemispheric or ± elongated synandrium; anthers bilocular, usually as numerous as perianth lobes, straight or sometimes U-shaped with a bend near apex of synandrium, occasionally variously fused or interrupted into locelli, transversely or longitudinally dehiscent; pollen white, subconical or globose, smooth or bullate. Spadicles minute, subclavate to clavate, very numerous, congested on female inflorescence. Female flowers: composed of a pistil, congested on main axis or also on basal stipe of spadicles. Ovary ellipsoid to fusiform, 1-loculed, attenuate toward both ends; ovules anatropous, shortly stiped. Style elongated, persistent. Fruit exocarp crustaceous.

About 19 species: mainly in tropical Africa and Australia, temperate to tropical Asia, and the Pacific Islands; 12 species (one endemic) in China.

Key to plants with a male inflorescence

1 Bracts subtending flowers fused side by side into a hexagonal alveolus.   (2)
+ Bracts subtending flowers free or not developed.   (3)
2 (1) Leaves verticillate and connate into a sheathlike whorl.   9 B. involucrata
+ Leaves subopposite or spiraled.   11 B. harlandii
3 (1) Bracts rudimentary or not developed.   (4)
+ Bracts developed and stout.   (5)
4 (3) Inflorescences ovoid to ellipsoid; flowers actinomorphic with isomorphic perianth lobes.   1 B. fungosa
+ Inflorescences cylindric to narrowly conic; flowers zygomorphic with heteromorphic perianth lobes.   8 B. laxiflora
5 (3) Flowers pedicellate; anther cells transversely divided into small locelli.   7 B. polyandra
+ Flowers long pedicellate; anther cells usually U-shaped.   (6)
6 (5) Perianth lobes ovate, less than 2 mm; synandria hemispheric (doubtful in China).   3 B. dioica
+ Perianth lobes lanceolate, more than 3 mm; synandria elongated.   (7)
7 (6) Flowers actinomorphic with isomorphic perianth lobes; anther locules U-shaped, usually as many as perianth lobes.   4 B. indica
+ Flowers zygomorphic with heteromorphic perianth lobes; anther locules straight, much more numerous than perianth lobes (usually 20-30) (doubtful in China).   5 B. elongata

List of Keys

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