Balanophora involucrata var. rubra Hook. f.
Erect, glabrous, fleshy herb, 10-13.5 cm tall, yellowish or red. Rootstock warty, (pale yellowish in dried specimens). Peduncle stout or ± slender, bursting through the rootstock, sheathed half way up by an involucre of 2-4 partially connate scales; scales ovate, acute or obtuse; heads monoecious or dioecious, ovoid, 19-25 x 14-18 mm, red or yellow. Male flowers: surrounding the base of the head (in monoecious forms). Perianth limb max. breadth 4.9 mm; lobes 3(4-5), broad, ovate-obtuse, ± 1.7 mm long; apex bilobed, if connate reflexed, rather thick. Anthers connate, transversely oblong, 1.6-2 mm broad, on dehiscence emitting copious, yellow pollen. Female flowers naked, numerous, interspersed with subglobulate to clavate bracts, 0.5-0.8 mm long; minute (ovary and style + 0.7 mm, the style longer than the ovary). Ovary ovoid to ellipsoid, compressed. Style linear, ± 0.5 mm long. Fruit not seen.
Type: Sikkim, 7-9,000, J.D. Hooker s.n. (lectotype, K!; iso-lectotype BM!).
Distribution: The temperate Himalayas from Hazara-Kashmir eastward to Simla, Sikkim, Tibet, Nepal, W. China.
Very rare in Pakistan and apparently only collected once. R.R. Stewart (Ann. Cat. Vasc. Pl. W. Pak. & Kashm. 200.1972) is right in stating that it could be mistaken for a phalloid fungus. It probably also grows in parts of A. Kashmir. Found on the roots of various shrubs and trees from 2-3000 m. Hook. f. mentions that the large woody knots (up to 10 cm broad) it causes on the roots of oaks and maples are used for making wooden cups by the natives.