Aerial stem-parasitic shrubs with epicortical runners bearing secondary haustoria. Leaves opposite. Inflorescences axillary, a few-fiowered spike; axis decussately flattened, with the flowers inserted in hollows; bracts 3 under each flower, foliaceous and together enclosing the flower bud. Fruit almost globular.
West Malesia: present from eastern India to Vietnam: present
Genus of two species distributed from eastern India to Vietnam. In West Malesia both species.
Morphology & Elytranthe occupies an intermediate position between Macrosolen, in which the inflorescence is a simple raceme or spike, and Lepidaria, in which it has the same basic structure but is condensed, capitate and involucrate. In Elytranthe the spicate inflorescence is still clearly evident, although the bracts are enlarged and closely envelop the developing flowers. However, the inflorescence features of the two species of Elytranthe possibly represent parallel developments, so that the genus may not be natural. Danser in addressed these problems, but did not find a satisfactory solution. The inflorescence architecture of Elytranthe albida and E. arnottiana is hardly different from that of the Macrosolen parasiticus species group, which Danser had earlier referred to Elytranthe but transferred to Macrosolen in 1936. The most satisfactory treatment may be to treat Elytranthe and Macrosolen as congeneric, but confirmation requires a critical study of the inflorescence structure, function and homology. Because the name Elytranthe has priority over Macrosolen, which is a relatively large genus, union of the two would involve considerable nomenclatural change.