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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 an androgynous inflorescence

1 Male flowers scattered between spadicles and female flowers.   12 B. tobiracola
+ Male flowers basal to female flowers.   (2)
2 (1) Flowering shoot creamy white to grayish; male flowers zygomorphic.   6 B. abbreviata
+ Flowering shoot yellow to red; male flowers actinomorphic or nearly so.   (3)
3 (2) Leaves verticillate and connate into a sheathlike whorl; spadicles obovoid to subglobose, shortly stiped.   10 B. fargesii
+ Leaves alternate; spadicles elongated, capitate.   (4)
4 (3) Male flowers larger; perianth lobes more than 3 mm.   1 B. fungosa
+ Male flowers smaller; perianth lobes less than 1.5 mm.   2 B. subcupularis

List of Keys

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