Sunday, December 11, 2011

Male bloom of Balanophora fungosa ssp. indica

Balanophora is an interesting but obscure genus of flowering plants consisiting of no more than 20 species of root parasites distributed in the tropical old world. This particular species is widespread from SE India to SE Asia and Australia and may in fact be more commonly reported if not for the fact that it is not visible unless in flower. Its vegetative part consist of subterranean tubers with hausterias attaching to its hosts from which it derived its nourishment. Unlike Rafflesias, it is not very picky with hosts - large lianas and trees from Fabaceae (Pea family), Figs, Ilex (Holly), Cissus (from grape family) and Syzygium (Myrtle family) are known targets.

This plant has 2 subspecies, ssp. fungosa has male and female flowers on the same inflorescence while the one pictured here, ssp. indica, bears only flower of either sex but not both.

The confounding thing about botany terminology is that it then goes to classify the unisex plant as "dioecious" while the plant with both sexes is "monoecious". Hmmmm...


Hermes said...

hat is nature being decidedly weird

Nat said...

This is definitely a strange one. Reminds of a pinecone. Exploring Asian jungles for strange plants must be fun

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