Thursday, December 16, 2010

Balanophora fungosa

Genus Balanophora is belonging to angiosperms (flowering plants) though it is always misidentified as some kinds of fungi by hikers. Though it resembles fungi by appearance but you could find floral structures in Balanophora such as its staminate and pistillate flowers and bracts by close observation. Also, fungi is saprophytic while Balanophora is obligate parasitic with specific hosts.

The specimen shown here is Balanophora fungosa taken in Queensland in late Oct, 2010. It actually has a wide distribution which is ranged from Northeastern Australia, Pacific Islands, East Malaysia, India, Taiwan and South Japan. It was reported having various hosts including Macaranga tanarius and Diospyros philippensis etc (Hsiao et al., 2010). It has monoecious inflorescence where pistillate flowers are on the upper part of the inflorescence while staminate flowers are on the lower part. There is also a wide range of floral color where the populations from Taiwan and Japan are pinkish orange while those in Queensland are yellow, as shown in the photographs here. Though it is considered as rare and vulnerable in Taiwan but it was found very abundant on the forest ground in Queensland, maybe due to different climate and host availability.

Hsiao, S., W. Huang and L. Maw-Sun (2010). Genetic diversity of
Balanophora fungosa and its conservation in Taiwan. Botanical Studies 51: 217-222.

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