Genera Included: Cynomorium. Takhtajan (1987), Thorne (1992), and Dahlgren (1983) have all separated Cynomoriaceae from Balanophoraceae. Molecular evidence (nuclear 18S rDNA) supports this segregation.

Habit: Fleshy, reddish-brown, achlorophyllous holoparasites. Contains cyanidin 3-glucoside anthocyanins (Harborne et al. 1994).

Parasitism: Attaching to the roots of (often) sal-tolerant plants by means of a large underground rhizome with many haustoria. Common hosts are Obione and Salsola (Chenopodiaceae), Inula (Asteraceae), Tamarix (Tamaricaceae), Melilotus (Fabaceae) and Limonium (Plumbaginaceae).

Roots: The massive underground rhizome bears many haustoria.

Stem: Present as an underground rhizome. Aerial portions are technically part of the inflorescence.

Leaves: Reduced to scales. In contrast to Balanophoraceae, stomates are present.

Inflorescence: Inflorescence a fleshy, clavate spike bearing numerous, minute, tightly-packed flowers. Scales of various sizes intermixed with the flowers, the larger ones somewhat peltate.

Plant Sex: Plants are polygamous bearing staminate, carpellate and bisexual flowers.

Staminate Flowers:
Calyx: (1-)4(-8) linear, clavate sepals that arise in a whorled arrangement at the base of the filament. Attached slightly higher on the filament is another bract (pistillode?) that is grooved and flat-topped. Prior to full elongation, the anther sac rests in the depression of this bract.
Androecium: 4-locular, dorsifixed anther. Filament ca. 3 mm long.
Pollen: 3-colpate, exine foveolate (pitted) and reticulate, the muri with small scabra; ca. 15 um in diameter.

Carpellate Flowers:
Gynoecium: Epigynous, with 2-3 syncarpous carpels with a single, bifid or trifid style. Perianth parts (sepals) present as papillose projections at base of style.
Ovary: Unilocular with a single ovule.
Ovule: Unitegmic, crassinuclellar, pendulous. Endosperm cellular.

Bisexual Flowers: Much less frequent than unisexual flowers. Resemble a small staminate flower fused laterally to the gynoecium portion of a carpellate flower.

Pollination: By flies

Fruit: A small, indehiscent nut-like fruit with one seed.

Seed: Small, with endosperm and a seed coat (testa).

Chromosomes: 2N = 28. Karyotype is bimodal, i.e. two types of chromosomes (macro- and microchromosomes). (Pazy et al. 1996).

Link to Family Description in Delta

SIUC / College of Science / Parasitic Plant Connection / Cynomoriaceae / Description
Last updated: 15-May-06 / dln