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Hup Patad08.jpg
Balanophora fungosa subsp. indica found in northwest Thailand (Hup Patad cave)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Santalales
Family: Balanophoraceae
Genus: Balanophora
J.R.Forst. & G.Forst.
Type species
Balanophora fungosa

See text

  • Balania Tiegh.
  • Balaniella Tiegh.
  • Polyplethia (Griff.) Tiegh.

Balanophora is a genus of parasitic plants in the family Balanophoraceae found in parts of tropical and temperate Asia, including the Malesia region, Pacific Islands, Madagascar, and tropical Africa.[1] There are about 20 accepted species,[2] including the newly discovered B. coralliformis. Many species emit an odour which possibly attracts pollinators in the same way that pollinators are attracted to Rafflesia.[3]

Balanophora species are used in folk medicine in many Asian cultures. For example, in China, Balanophora is known as she-gu (stone-fungus) and in Thailand as hoh-ra-tao-su-nak. In both cases, the plant is used to treat a variety of ailments. The tubers of Balanophora are rich in a wax-like substance which is used in Java as a fuel for torches.[3][4]


The genus was first described in 1775 by Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg Forster in Characteres Generum Plantarum.[5][6] The name is derived from the Ancient Greek words balanos meaning "acorn"[7]:68 and phoras meaning "bearing".[7]:187


As of March 2017, the following species are accepted:[2]

The following names are unresolved:[2]


  1. ^ "Balanophora J.R. Forst. & G. Forst". Botanical Garden. Retrieved 26 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "Search results for Balanophora". The Plant List. Retrieved 2017-03-30.
  3. ^ a b Jin, Chee Beng; Hoo, Lau Kah (2010). "Balanophora:the hidden highland parasite with unexplored medicinal potential". Malaysian Naturalist: 20–21. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Balanophoraceae". Flora Malesiana. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  5. ^ "Plant Name Details for Balanophora". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). International Organization for Plant Information (IOPI). Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ Forster, Johann Reinhold; Forster, Georg (1775). Characteres Generum Plantarum. London: White, Cadell & Elmsly. p. 99. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b Brown, Roland Wilbur (1956). The Composition of Scientific Words. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press.
  8. ^ Balanophora coralliformis (Balanophoraceae), a new species from Mt. Mingan, Luzon, Philippines
  9. ^ Those Who do not Chlorophyll Lithophytic