Wonder plants - Tolypanthus, an eye-catching parasite

This strikingly different looking flower is that of a parasite native to south Western India. It is found in a hilly stony terrain at Kaje.
Tolypanthus Lagenifer - Flower bud and mature flowers in separate 
Also notice a seed just germating!

Parasitic plants are in general not deemed with respect by the people who do not appreciate greatness of flora; people think it is a killer. But they will reconsider if they see the flowers of this plant. This is Tolypanthus lagenifer. Apparently there isn’t a common name.

Dr. K. G. Bhat has recorded spotting this plant attached to Hopea ponga (formerly Hopea Wighteana – ಕರ್ಮಾರು/ಕರಿಮರ). I found it on Loesenerilla arnottiana (ಮಾದರಿ ಬಳ್ಳಿ).

Plants is eyecatching when it is in bloom. Flower cluster is absolutely attractive. Group of flowers has a cup-like surrounding, adding to the beauty - looks like a "quiver", technical name for an archer's bag containing arrows. It is not clear if it serves any purpose, but it is clearly noticeable that the cup holds water. Does it have any influence on seed setting? for the initial development of the fertilized egg? – I have no idea. Bracts, a.k.a called involucre if it is covering a bunch of flowers together, definitely have the purpose of luring the pollinator’s attention. Considering the fact that seemingly useless things in nature often have some purpose either to the same organism or some other, this flower-cup easily looked as if it is for something beyond attraction.

Tolypanthus lagenifer - Flower just opened
Tolypanthus lagenifer - opened flowers from top

Flower buds look quite similar to that of Dendrophthoe falcata’s, even the opening pattern.
Dendrophthoe falcata (a different parasite) - with flower parts explained
Flower bunch of Dendrophthoe falcata (check my other post on this plant):

This may not be a coincidence as both are parasites. Petals turn reddish as they age possibly when they get ready for pollination (anthesis). Pink anthers are just gorgious. Style (tip of female reproductive structure) looks velvetty and its stalk is red. All in all the flower bunch will attract an onlooker irrespective of his/her liking towards flora.

Tolypanthus lagenifer - Leaves with pink dots
This plant is in a place where people don’t visit once in 6 months. Flora and fauna in nature exhibit beauty, intelligence and utility in their own ways and in contexts unrelated to humans. This is one of the gazillion examples which shows that everything around us is not meant for us.

Some of my thoughts on parasitic plants are also mentioned here.


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