Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Divisio: Magnoliophyta
Classis: Magnoliopsida
Ordo: Piperales
Familia: Hydnoraceae
Genera: Hydnora - Prosopanche


Hydnoraceae C. Agardh


* Stevens, P. F. (2001 onwards). Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 6, May 2005. [1]
* Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: Vascular Plant Families and Genera[2]

Hydnoraceae is a family of parasitic flowering plants in the order Piperales. It contains two genera, Hydnora and Prosopanche and some seven[1] species. Prosopanche contains two species from Central and South America and Hydnora contains five species from arid areas of Africa, Saudi Arabia, and Madagasgar.[1]


The most striking aspect of the Hydnoraceae is probably the complete absence of leaves (not even in modified forms such as scales).[1] Some species are mildly thermogenic (capable of producing heat), presumably as a means to dispersing their scent.[2]


The plants are pollinated by insects such as dermestid beetles or carrion flies, attracted by the fetid odor of the flowers.[1] In Hydnora africana there are bait bodies with a strong smell, whereas in Hydnora johannis the scent comes from a region at the tip of the perianth called a cucullus.[1] The flowers may be above ground or underground.[1] The fruits have edible, fragrant pulp, which attracts animals such as porcupines, monkeys, jackals, rhinoceros, and armadillos, as well as humans. The host plants, in the case of Hydnora, generally are in the family Euphorbiaceae and the genus Acacia.[1] Those for Prosopanche include various species of Prosopis and other legumes.


The plants contain high levels of tannins.[3]


Like many parasitic plants, the affinities with non-parasitic plants are not obvious, and 19th and 20th century botanists proposed a variety of placements for the family. Molecular data places them in the Piperales, more closely related to Aristolochiaceae than to Piperaceae or Saururaceae.[1][4]


1. ^ a b c d e f g h Nickrent, D. L.; Blarer, A.; Qiu, Y.-L.; Soltis, D. E.; Soltis, P. S.; Zanis, M. (2002), "Molecular data place Hydnoraceae with Aristolochiaceae", American Journal of Botany 89: 1809, doi:10.3732/ajb.89.11.1809
2. ^ Seymour, Rs; Maass, E; Bolin, Jf (Jul 2009), "Floral thermogenesis of three species of Hydnora (Hydnoraceae) in Africa", Annals of botany 104 (5): 823–32, doi:10.1093/aob/mcp168, ISSN 0305-7364, PMC 2749535, PMID 19584128, http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2749535
3. ^ The Genus Hydnora, http://www.odu.edu/~lmusselm/plant/parasitic/hydnora_intro.php
4. ^ Barkman, Tj; Mcneal, Jr; Lim, Sh; Coat, G; Croom, Hb; Young, Nd; Depamphilis, Cw (Dec 2007), "Mitochondrial DNA suggests at least 11 origins of parasitism in angiosperms and reveals genomic chimerism in parasitic plants." (Free full text), BMC evolutionary biology 7: 248, doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-248, PMC 2234419, PMID 18154671

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