Balanophora elongata (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

Balanophora elongata Blume

Protologue: Balanophoraceae


Balanophora ungeriana Valeton.

Vernacular names

  • Indonesia: "perud" followed by the vernacular name of the host, e.g. perud cantigi, perud ramo giling, perud panggang (Javanese, Sundanese).


Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, abundant in West Java). Var. ungeriana (Valeton) B.Hansen only occurs on Mt. Salak and Mt. Gede (West Java).


B. elongata contains so much wax that it is used to make small candles or torches. Whole plants are macerated and heated until the pulp sticks to small bamboo strips which are then sold as candles. The wax can also be obtained by cooking the plant. All parts of the plant are also used as an aphrodisiac.


Dioecious, fleshy root parasite, without chlorophyll, red to brown, with basal tubers from which stems arise. Tubers repeatedly branched, with scattered tessellate warts; tuber branches cylindrical, 3-8 cm × 1-1.5 cm. Stem in male plants up to 20 cm long, shorter in female plants, 58 mm in diameter. Leaves 720, arranged spirally, imbricate, gradually increasing in size upwards, elliptical-obtuse, up to 4 cm × 2 cm, reddish to yellowish, partly concealing the spadix-like inflorescence. Male inflorescence spicate, 35 cm long; pedicel 37 mm long; flower 4(5)merous, subtended by short truncate bracts; tepals about 4 mm long; stamens forming a synandrium with fertile part 2 mm long and 20-30 vertical locules opening longitudinally. Female inflorescence spicate, ellipsoidal to subspherical, 34 cm × 23 cm; bracts transformed to minute, more or less clubshaped spadicles; female flowers on main axis of inflorescence as well as on lower part of spadicles, perianth absebt; largest flowers with pistil 1.3 mm long, styles much longer than the spadicles. B. elongata flowers throughout the year and is found in evergreen forest at 10003000 m altitude. Two varieties are distinguished: var. elongata and var. ungeriana (Valeton) B.Hansen, the latter with tubers which are not elongated and with coarsely longitudinally striate leaves. The roots of various tree and shrub species have been recorded as host of B. elongata var. elongata , e.g. Schefflera aromatica (Blume) Harms, Vaccinium laurifolium (Blume) Miq., V. lucidum (Blume) Miq. and various Ficus species, but only Ficus species have been recorded as hosts of var. ungeriana . Due to its rare occurrence, the candles and the wax have never been traded commercially.

Selected sources

5, 21, 23.