Hydnora aethiopica Decne.
Hydnora bogosensis Becc.
Hydnora cornii Vacc.
Hydnora gigantean Chiov.
Hydnora hanningtonii Rendle
Hydnora johannis Becc.
Hydnora michaelis Peter
Hydnora ruspolii Chiov.
Hydnora solmsiana Dinter
Hydnora abyssinica is an unmistakable plant - a totally parasitic, perennial that is without any chlorophyll or leaves at all. With its vegetative parts looking more like a fungus, it is one of the strangest plants in the world. Its vegetative plant body is highly reduced and consists of only roots and flowers - it belongs to the only family of angiosperms with no leaves or scales of any sort. Parasitic on the roots of host trees, especially Acacia gerrardii and Lannea humilis, it has an underground stem, or pseudo-rhizome, that grows into the host's roots and so extracts food. The plant is only seen when the tips of the flowers push out of the ground - even the fruit develops below the soil surface[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food and medicine. The roots are sold in local markets for their medicinal uses[
Africa - drier areas from Sudan to Somalia, south to Angola, Namibia, Botswana and S, Africa; Arabian Peninsula
Grasslands, Acacia bushland and woodlands, at elevations up to 1,500 metres[
]. It is parasitic on roots, especially on Acacia gerrardii and Lannea humilis[
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A plant of low to moderate elevations in the drier tropics. In Tanzania it is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 700 - 1,600mm[
Tolerates a variety of soils[
Fruit - raw[
]. The white, mealy flesh has a very sweet flavour[
]. Mainly eaten as a snack or as a famine food[
]. The berry-like fruit contains many very small seeds in a glutinous pulp[
]. The fleshy, globose fruit is 10 - 15cm in diameter, often splitting irregularly at maturity[
Root - cooked[
]. The underground stem is roasted in hot ash[
The underground stem is cut into pieces and boiled in water. The decoction is drunk to treat stomach-ache, dysentery, sore throat and retained placenta[
The roots are used in the treatment of diarrhoea and to staunch haemorrhaging[
The roots are a source of tannins[
Seed - it is able to germinate once the fruit has turned red, but will germinate far more quickly if it is left on the plant for another month or two before harvesting and sowing[
Cuttings of the underground stem[
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