Balanophora papuana Schltr.
by Mrs. Syazwani Bt. Azeman
Balanophora papuana Schltr.
by Mrs. Syazwani Bt. Azeman

Balanophora is a genus of parasitic plants from the family Balanophoraceae that lack chlorophyll and thus are dependent on the woody roots of their host plant for the supply of nutrients and water. There are currently 46 recognised species of this genus that can be found in temperate and tropical Asia, ranging from the Pacific Islands, tropical Australia, Comoros, Madagascar and tropical Africa. Currently, six species can be found in Peninsular Malaysia (Kiew, 2010) and five species in Sabah (Barkman et al., 2003).

Balanophora papuana is a herbaceous plant that is widespread throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines and the archipelago of islands stretching from Sumatera to New Guinea. It can be found in lower to upper montane forest at altitudes of 1000 – 2000 m. It typically has bright red to orange-yellow or yellow inflorescences (Hambali, 1980). The tubers resemble coral and can reach up to 14 – 24 cm diameter with 3 – 12 branches. The surface of the tubers is granular, sometimes with star-like, white warts. The male inflorescences are 2.5 – 5 x 1.5 – 3 cm with expanded flowers, subtended by inconspicuous tooth-like bracts, 1.5 – 3.5 cm long. The male flowers are often arranged in conspicuous vertical rows with median tepals, wide and truncate, 4.5 x 3.5 mm, and lateral tepals, narrow and acute, 4.5 x 1 mm. The female inflorescences are obovoid to globose, deep red in colour, 1.5 – 3 x 1 – 2.5 cm, which is much smaller than the male inflorescence. The female flowers are chiefly borne on the main axis of the inflorescence. The fruits and seeds are unknown (Hansen, 1972).

The flowers are pollinated by wasps. In Peninsular Malaysia, this plant can be found at Gunung Stong, Taiping Hills, Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill, Gunung Angsi, Gunung Ledang, Gunung Panti and Gunung Belumut. The conservation status for this species is least concern. (Kiew, 2010).


  1. Balanophoraceae. Flora Malesiana, Vol. 1 (7), 1972. Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands.
  2. Hambali, G.G. (1980). A new species of Balanophora from the Malay Peninsula. Reinwardtia 9 (4), 425-427.
  3. Kiew, R. (2010). Balanophoraceae. Flora of Peninsular Malaysia, Series II: Seed Plants , Volume 1. pp. 67-81
  4. Todd, Barkman, Bellia, Emoi & Repin, R. The genus Balanophora (Balanophoraceae) in Sabah, Malaysia. BLUMEA - Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants 48 (3), 2003, pp. 465-474
QR Code
Scan QR code for mobile experience

Other articles

Pangium edule Reinw. (Achariaceae)

Mrs. Norzielawati Salleh   •   29 Sep 2023   •   50 views

Libellago aurantiaca (Selys, 1859)

Ms. Nurfarhana Hizan Binti Hijas & Assoc. Prof. Dr. Choong Chee Yen   •   15 Sep 2023   •   246 views

Vallaris glabra (L) Kuntze (Apocynaceae)

Mrs. Sarah Nabila Binti Rosli & Aida Hidayah   •   31 Aug 2023   •   437 views

Agropsar sturninus (Pallas, 1776)

Ms. Anis Zafirah Binti Zam Beri & Mr. Mohammad Shahfiz Azman   •   31 Jul 2023   •   162 views

Dracontomelon dao (Blanco) Merr. & Rolfe

Mr. Nik Faizu Bin Nik Hassan & Mrs. Rafidah Abdul Rahman   •   30 Jun 2023   •   166 views
Today, there are less than 200 Malayan tigers left in our country.
#SaveOurMalayanTiger. Visit
Malaysia Biodiversity Information System (MyBIS)   by   Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC)

Copyright © 2023, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC), Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC). All rights reserved. DISCLAIMER - The Malaysian Government, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change (NRECC), Malaysia Biodiversity Centre (MBC) and Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) shall not be liable for any loss or damage caused by the usage of any information obtained from this website. By entering this site, you acknowledge and agree that no portion of this site, including but not limited to names, logos, trademarks, patents, sound, graphics, charts, text, audio, video, information or images are either MyBIS property or the property permitted by third-party and shall not be used without prior written approval from the owner(s).
Best viewed using latest Mozila Firefox, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 with Resolution 1024 x 768px or above. Version 2.0 / 2016
Website Citation: MyBIS (2023). Malaysia Biodiversity Information System. Published on the Internet, Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, Malaysia Biodiversity Centre & Forest Research Institute Malaysia. [Retrieved 04 October 2023].