Balanophoraceae L.C. & A. Rich.
Including Dactylanthaceae (Engler) Takhtajan, Hachettiaceae Van Tiegh., Helosidaceae (Heloseaceae) (Schott & Endlicher) Van Tiegh., Langsdorffiaceae Van Tiegh., Lophophytaceae Horan., Mystropetalaceae Takhtajan, Latraeophilaceae Leandro ex A. St.-Hil., Sarcophytaceae Horan.
Habit and leaf form. Herbs. Plants of very peculiar vegetative form; fungoid (the above-ground parts constitute the inflorescence, which is remarkably fungoid in appearance, pallid, brown, pink or purplish, bearing numerous flowers that are among the smallest known. The underground parts, which are attached to the host root, may be the size of a pineapple and are tuber-like in appearance, exhibiting scale-leaves in only one genus. The inflorescence develops within the ‘tuber’, ultimately rupturing it and exhibiting its remains as a ‘volva’ at the base). Leaves much reduced (but subterranean only), or absent. Plants rootless (at least in the normal sense); more or less succulent; totally parasitic. Parasitic on roots of the host (of trees). Annual to perennial (without chlorophyll). Leaves when present, membranous.
Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening absent. Xylem with vessels, or without vessels. Vessel end-walls simple.
Reproductive type, pollination. Plants monoecious, or dioecious.
Inflorescence, floral, fruit and seed morphology. Inflorescences with densely crowded flowers. Flowers minute.
Perianth sepaline (sometimes, in male flowers), or vestigial to absent; when present, 3–8 (lobed); when present, free, or joined.
Androecium 1–2 (in achlamydeous male flowers), or 3–8 (equalling and opposite P). Androecial members free of one another, or coherent. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 1–8; often isomerous with the perianth. Anthers cohering, or separate from one another; dehiscing via pores, or dehiscing via short slits; bilocular to four locular to many locular; tetrasporangiate. Anther epidermis persistent. Anther wall with no differentiation of an endothecium; of the ‘dicot’ type. Tapetum probably glandular. Pollen grains aperturate, or nonaperturate; when aperturate, (2–)3–5 aperturate, or 3–4(–5) aperturate; colpate, or porate, or foraminate; 2-celled.
Gynoecium 1–2(–3) carpelled. The pistil 1–2(–3) celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious; superior to inferior. Ovary 1–2(–3) locular. Gynoecium stylate (usually), or non-stylate. Styles apical. Stigmas 1, or 2. Placentation apical. Ovules 1 per locule; pendulous; without integuments. Embryo-sac development Polygonum-type, or Allium-type. Antipodal cells formed, or not formed; when formed, 1, or 2; not proliferating. Endosperm formation cellular. Endosperm haustoria present. Embryogeny piperad.
Fruit non-fleshy; indehiscent; a drupe, or a nut. The drupes with one stone. Fruit 1 seeded. Seeds endospermic; without a testa. Embryo rudimentary at the time of seed release.
Seedling. Germination type inapplicable — cotyledons lacking.
Physiology, biochemistry. Not cyanogenic. Alkaloids absent (one species).
Geography, cytology. All but one sub-tropical to tropical. Pantropical.
Taxonomy. Subclass Dicotyledonae; Crassinucelli, or Tenuinucelli (?). Dahlgren’s Superorder Balanophoriflorae; Balanophorales. Cronquist’s Subclass Rosidae; Santalales. APG (1998) family of uncertain position at the highest group level. APG 3 (2009) Order: Santalales.
Species 120. Genera 17; Balanophora, Chlamydophytum, Corynaea, Dactylanthus, Ditepalanthus, Exorhopala, Hachettea, Helosis, Langsforffia, Lophophytum, Mystropetalon, Ombrophytum, Rhopalocnemis, Sarcophyte, Scybalium, Thonningia.
• Habit and technical details: Scybalium (Lindley).