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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 female inflorescence

1 Spadicles obovate to subglobose, shortly stiped; female flowers only on main axis of inflorescence.   (2)
+ Spadicles elongated, capitate to subcapitate; female flowers on basal stipe of spadicles and on main axis of inflorescence.   (3)
2 (1) Leaves verticillate and connate into a sheathlike whorl; apical cells of spadicles with distinct cuticular ridges.   9 B. involucrata
+ Leaves alternate; apical cells of spadicles smooth.   11 B. harlandii
3 (1) Spadicles apically papillate (doubtful in China).   3 B. dioica
+ Spadicles apically not papillate.   (4)
4 (3) Apical leaves larger than basal leaves; female inflorescence broadly ellipsoid, obovoid, or subspheroid.   (5)
+ All leaves usually same size; female inflorescences ellipsoid, oblong-ellipsoid, or oblong-ovoid.   (6)
5 (4) Rhizomes usually clustered into a mass; flowering inflorescence not concealed by leaves; cuticular ridges of apical cells of spadicle short, not labyrinthlike.   4 B. indica
+ Rhizome with elongated cylindric branches; flowering inflorescence partly concealed by upper leaves; cuticular ridges of apical cells of spadicle labyrinthlike (doubtful in China).   5 B. elongata
6 (4) Spadicles to 2.3 mm.   7 B. polyandra
+ Spadicles less than 1.5 mm.   8 B. laxiflora

List of Keys

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