Parasitic Plant Connection

Hydnoraceae C. Agardh.

Family Description

Distribution Map

Prosopanche is known from southern South America and Costa Rica. Hydnora is found in Africa and Madagascar. This is a classic example of a Gondwanan distribution. The ancestor of the two genera likely occupied Gondwana prior to the separation of that continent into Africa and South America ca. 100 million years ago. The amazing discovery of Prosopanche in Central America (Gomez and Gomez 1981) demonstrates a wide range disjunction for the genus. The taxon has been considered a new species (P. costaricensis) or conspecific with P. americana of South America.

Hydnoraceae Distribution Map

List of Genera


Hydnora africana

Hydnora johannis

Hydnora triceps

Hydnora species

This may be the rare Hydnora esculenta, but flowers have yet to be seen. This poorly known species is from Berenty, a private nature reserve in southern Madagascar. Photographs by George Williams.

Prosopanche americana

Prosopanche bonacinae

The Hydnora Page (L. J. Musselman, ODU).

IJPS Hydnora cover

Bolin, J. F., E. Maass, and L. J. Musselman. 2009. Pollination biology of Hydnora africana thunb. (Hydnoraceae) in Namibia: brood-site mimicry with insect imprisonment. Int. J. Plant Sci. 170: 157–163.

cover AJB Hydnora

Hydnora on the cover of American Journal of Botany. See article by Tennakoon et al. on the vegetative morphology and anatomy of H. triceps, a hypogeous root holoparasite.  AJB 2007, vol. 94, 1439-1449.


This family contains two genera, Prosopanche (S. and C. America), and Hydnora (Africa and Madagascar). As with Balanophoraceae, Cronquist and Takhtajan differed in their classifications of this family. Cronquist placed it in Rosidae in Rafflesiales, Takhtajan in Magnoliidae with Rafflesianae.  Both were incorrect with regard to a relationship with Rafflesiaceae.  Takhtajan was closer in placing the family in Magnoliidae, for indeed molecular data place Hydnoraceae in Piperales (Nickrent et al. 2002, pdf HERE). The most recent analysis (Nickrent 2005, IBC abstract) suggests Hydnoraceae is most closely related to Aristolochiaceae s. lat.


SIUC / College of Science / Parasitic Plant Connection / Hydnoraceae
Last updated: 20-Apr-10 / dln