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Aerial stem-parasitic shrubs with epicortical runners bearing secondary haustoria. Leaves opposite or displaced, sometimes with fully developed ones alternating with very reduced ones and then sometimes apparently superposed. Inflorescence capitate, a very condensed spike, with the flowers placed in small hollows; bracts single under each flower. Flowers hermaphrodite or functionally unisexual with plants dioecious. Fruit ellipsoid to globose.


Asia-Tropical: Borneo present; Jawa (Jawa present), from Sri Lanka southeastwards to Indochina and Malesia present
Four species from Sri Lanka southeastwards to Indochina and Malesia; in Malesia 2 species reaching Borneo and Java.


The flower head is seemingly sessile; its receptacle is the condensed, convex axis of a spike, and the flowers are inserted in small hollows of this axis; the floral bracts enclose the base of each flower but do not form an involucre around the inflorescence.


The genus is probably related to Loranthus and to the larger genus Helixanthera, differing in its condensed, capitate inflorescence. It also shares with Loranthus the existence of dioecy among its species.

There has been some uncertainty about the spelling of Barathranthus. The name was first used by Korthals in , as a section of Loranthus. Miquel in raised the section to generic rank, as Baratranthus, citing p. 262 of Korthals' work. However, on p. 262 Korthals had used the spelling Barathranthus. Miquel's spelling was adopted by Pfeiffer in , with Barathranthus listed as an orthographic variant. In Korthals' original work the orthographically correct Barathranthus was used in his enumeration (p. 262), and Baratranthus was used in a preamble in Dutch on p. 250 (C. Kalkman, personal communication). The latter spelling is best treated as a typographic error, and Barathranthus is accordingly confirmed as the correct spelling.