Cynomorium

Cynomorium

 

a genus of plants of the family Cynomoriaceae (sometimes included in the family Balanophoraceae). The plants are perennial, achlorophyllous, red-brown or violet-brown herbaceous parasites with a branched rhizome. The stems are fleshy, with numerous scaly leaves. The small unisexual and bisexual flowers are in clusters gathered into dense claviform or cylindrical apical spikes with thick axes. The purple-black corolla is one- to five-parted (sometimes with as many as six to eight parts). There is a single stamen; the fruit is nutlike.

There are two species—C. coccineum and C. songaricum — distributed in the Mediterranean region, Southwest Asia, Middle Asia, and Central Asia. The plants grow in steppes and semides-erts, predominantly on sandy saline soils. C. songaricum occurs in the USSR, in the Balkhash region, Tien-Shan, and Pamir-Alai. It parasitizes the roots of shrubs (for example, the tamarisk, Nitraria, and buckthorn) and, less commonly, herbaceous plants.

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Another herb, cynomorium, has been found to increase telomere length; and hu zhang contains resveratrol, which activates telomerase.