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Anthorrhiza Huxley & Jebb 1990.

Anthorrhiza was published in the Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 60, 1990.

The genus currently consists of nine species primarily from the Papuan (or Bird’s Tail) Peninsula in southeast Papua New Guinea and numbers of the many islands situated in the Massim an ancient Melanesian interisland trade region now part of Milne Bay Province.

This places the genus quite some distance from Myrmephytum another small hydnophyte genus that conversely occupies the Bird’s Head (Vogelkop) and Bomberai Peninsulas of West Papua Province, Indonesia, which sits at the opposite north-west, end of New Guinea Island with more species in the Philippine islands to the north.

No Anthorrhiza or Myrmephytum are recorded in the central New Guinea land mass that sits between, except for Huxley & Jebb’s little known Myrmephytum sp1 collected at Dalman 45 km inland from Nabire on the north-west coast of Papua Province, which is not far from the isthmus that leads to West Papua Province.

Habitats range from sea level to around 3000 m. (9843 ft.) primarily in stunted undisturbed and disturbed forests on poor soils but including agricultural trees. (Huxley & Jebb 1991b.)

All species have a single inflorescence in one axil at each node but this may be hidden by dense spines; flowers are 4 merous.  Myrmephytum are similar but have six-merous flowers.

According to Huxley & Jebb, lowland Anthorrhiza species somewhat resemble Hydnophytum while species occurring at or above 1600 m. (5249 ft.), are superficially more like Myrmecodia.  A similar situation occurs among Myrmephytum.

They are all extremely rare in cultivation but Dr Nicholas Plummer records one Anthorrhiza specimen “on display at the University of Oxford Botanic Garden, England”.

Key to the Species of Anthorrhiza.

After Huxley & Jebb 1991, amended to include * A. camilla Jebb 1993.

1a. Spines present on stem… = 2.

1b. Spines absent on stem or very few… = 6.

2a. Spines largely, but not exclusively confined to the inflorescence forming a cushion in the leaf axils.  Leaves 4-10cm wide… = 3.

2b. Spines scattered on stem. Leaves usually less than 4cm wide… = 4.

3a. Inflorescence with fleshy ridges separating flower-producing tissue.  Spines straight, usually dense on tuber. Corolla lobes greenish white. Anthers cream. = A. echinella.

3b. Inflorescence without ridges of tissue. Spines gently curved, usually sparse on tuber. Corolla white. Anthers blue… = A. recurvispina.

4a. Lamina less than 8cm long, stipules persistent, rounded… = A. stevensii.

4b. Lamina more than 10cm long, stipules caducous (easily shed), triangular or rounded… = 5.

5a. Stem dorsiventral, (flattened and having distinct upper and lower surfaces) more spines on upper side, spines light brown to blackish. Leaf margin crinkled. Corolla blue… = A. caerulea.

5b. Stem radially symmetrical, rarely dorsiventral. Spines golden brown. Leaf margin flat.  Corolla white to greenish white… = # (This amendment includes the newest species A. camilla.)

#a.  Inflorescence bracts leathery, splitting regularly, apiculate, persistent. Petals with long slender lobe tips… = A. chrysacantha.

#b.  Inflorescence bracts papery, tearing irregularly, not apiculate, caducous (easily shed.) Petals acute-rounded… = A. camilla. (The newest species)

6a. Inflorescence covered by leathery and papery bracts.  Fruit with 4-8 pyrenes… = A. bracteosa.

6b. Inflorescence sunken or covered by a dense cushion of bract hairs. Fruit with 2 pyrenes… =7.

7a. Tuber surface smooth. Leaves to 17x7cm. Inflorescence narrowly cordate in outline… = A. mitis.

7b. Tuber surface areolate (roughened by areolae).  Leaves to 11x4cm.  Inflorescence arch-shaped in outline... = A. areolata.

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nine or eight  species











A.chrysacantha  come from the central PNG  , no



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Hi Derrick,


Many thanks for this sharing.

Thus... As i'm still reticent to have a facebook account, I'll be a little bit more patient ;)


With my best wishes,


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One of the interesting observations that I made while on this expedition to some very remote places in Milne Bay, is that not only are mobile smart phones fairly common there but most of the guides are on Facebook.  Not being part of such a communication empire may disadvantage non participant plant collectors and will certainly curtail your learning curves.  They often use small solar powered units to keep their phones charged; lighting was also solar charged.

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