Herbaceous, fleshy root parasites, destitute of chlorophyll and roots, with yellowish white to yellow, brown, orange to red or rose pink colours. At point of contact with host root a cylindrical or subspherical, branched or unbranched solid tuber develops. Stem appearing from the tuber endogenously or exogenously, leafless or with scaly leaves. Inflorescence spadix-like with unisexual flowers, ♂, ♀, or ♀♂, in the Mal. spp. unbranched. ♂ Flowers pedicellate or sessile, supported by bracts or not, 2-6-merous. Tepals 2-6 in one series, free from each other. Stamens 2-4(-?), opposite the tepals, united into a synandrium. ♀ Flowers apparently not supported by bracts, with or without a minutely 2-lobed perianth adnate to the ovary. Styles 2 or 1. Ovary with 1 embryo, apparently without a cavity. Embryo very small, embedded in a more or less well developed endosperm. Distribution. About 45 species in 18 genera in the tropics and subtropics of the world. As to our present knowledge 7 genera are exclusively South American, 4 genera are exclusively African, 2 are Asian, 1 is from Madagascar, 1 from New Zealand, and 1 from New Caledonia. Two genera have remarkable distributions, viz Langsdorffia with 3 species, 1 in South America, 1 in Madagascar and 1 in New Guinea, and Balanophora with 15 species from tropical Africa to Tahiti and Marquesas, one of the species covering almost the entire area (see B. abbreviata).