Balanophora coralliformis Facts
- Most notably, the most memorable thing about the Balanophora coralliformis remains its appearance. That’s because this remarkable species truly makes for a rather distinctive looking plant, from any perspective. However, it also deserves concern for several other reasons.
- That’s because, in addition to its sheer appearance, it distinguishes itself from related species in a most unfortunate manner. That holds true due to the fact that it only appears to exist in one location. Not only that, but this incredible species also exists in only one type of habitat.
- In addition, for the moment, at least, researchers known of the existence of only 50 individuals plants. Due to these two factors, the IUCN quite understandably currently lists it as Endangered, pending further information. It also owes this status to the fact that the region it inhabits currently has no protection.
Balanophora coralliformis Physical Description
First of all, the Balanophora coralliformis makes for a rather strangely shaped parasitic plant. Additionally, as with other parasitic plants, it does not possess chlorophyll. Therefore, the astonishing species remains incapable of photosynthesis.
This herbaceous plant also forms in small clumps up to 12 in (30 cm) in height. The rather unique species further produces numerous branches reminiscent of the shape of coral. This represents the source of the scientific name.
The marvel of Nature also appears to be dioecious in nature. The branches develop tube-shaped and attain lengths of as much as 2 in (5 cm). In color, the Balanophora coralliformis is a random combination of various shades of brown.
In addition, for reasons that presently remain a mystery, each individual plant also produces only 2-3 leaves. These few leaves typically appear as a darker yellow in color. Finally, no fruits have yet been observed on any specimens found.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Angiosperms
- Class: Eudicots
- Order: Santalales
- Family: Balanophoraceae
- Genus: Balanophora
- Species: B. coralliformis
Balanophora coralliformis Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
To date, the one location the visually remarkable Balanophora coralliformis only seems to exist on remains quite remote. Its only known habitat to date consists of the southwestern slope of Mount Mingan, in the Philippines, in Asia.
Furthermore, all currently known individuals also inhabit a highly specific range, in addition to everything else restricting it. So far, researchers only know of the very few specimens that live at elevations between 4,800-5,600 ft (1,465-1,735 m).
Not only that, but within these areas, it has been found exclusively in forest regions with heavy concentrations of moss. For the moment, experts do not know if this is pure coincidence, or if it forms a necessary part of its life cycle.
Obviously, given its scant numbers, it faces many threats to its continued existence. However,the greatest threats to the species consist of slash and burn agricultural practices. Illegal logging in the area it exists in also presents a danger. Naturally, considering everything, climate change also threatens it.