Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Balanophora fungosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. subsp. fungosa

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
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Inflorescence. © CSIRO
Habit, flowers. © CSIRO

Hansen, B. (1972) Dansk Botanisk Arkiv Udgivet af Dansk Botanisk Forening 28: 98.

Common name

Balanophora; Fungus Root


'Plants' arise from an irregularly-shaped, hard, bulbous mass attached to the roots of rain forest plants.


Leaves about 10-35 per 'plant'. Leaves scale-like, cream, without chlorophyll, about 8-30 x 7-20 mm, sessile, apex obtuse, base +/- partly clasping the stem. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves blades glabrous. No venation.


Plant monoecious, both male and female flowers present on the same inflorescence. Flowers emit a mouse-like odour. Male flowers: Flowers about 3-5 mm diam., pedicellate (pedicels +/- 5-6 mm long) arranged in a ring around the base of the head of female flowers. Pollen white. Backs of the anthers fused to one another to form a globular head of anthers in the middle of each male flower. Anthers opening by a horseshoe-shaped slit. Female flowers: Flowers tiny, borne in globular heads about 1-2.5 cm diam. Styles about 0.7-0.8 mm long.


Fruits borne on the surface of a globular head about 1-3.5 cm diam. Fruit small, about 0.4-0.5 x 0.3-0.4 mm, surface rugose. Translucent floral remnants attached at one end. Seeds about 0.25 mm diam.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far SE Queensland near Noosa. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 700 m. Also found in Asia, Malesia and the Pacific islands.

Natural History & Notes

Flowering plants emit an odour resembling that of mice.

Grows as a parasite on the roots of other plants.

Male and female flowers occur on the same inflorescence.

Balanophora fungosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst. var. fungosa, Dansk Botanisk Arkiv Udgivet af Dansk Botanisk Forening 28: 100(1972). Balanophora fungosa J.R.Forst. & G.Forst., Characteres Generum Plantarum Edn. 1 : 98(1775), Type: J.R. & G. Forster s. n. tanna in 1774; Lecto: BM; Iso: C, S, UPS. Fide Hansen (1972). Balanophora fungosa f. extratropica F.M.Bailey, Comprehensive Catalogue of Queensland Plants : 470(1913), Type: Parasitic on roots of trees, Mt. Eerwah, N.C. Line (H. Anderson).
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