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This family includes only a single species, Hanguana malayana found from Sri Lanka through Malesia to northern Australia, where it is restricted to the Top End of the Northern Territory and adjacent parts of Queensland. It may grow on the water's edge, or form large, floating masses.

Characteristic features of the family Hanguanaceae in Australia include:

  • robust, perennial herbs with lanceolate leaves with prominent longitudinal nerves and fine cross-veins
  • flowers small, unisexual and borne on separate plants in large, much-branched panicles, each with 6 greenish or yellowish, scale-like perianth lobes often with red spots
  • male flowers with 6 stamens and a rudimentary ovary, females with 6 staminodes and a superior ovary with 3 short, broad stigma-lobes
  • fruit a black drupe with a thin, fleshy rind and a single stone


Perennial terrestrial herbs, or aquatic herbs rooted in the substrate with their leaves emergent. Perennating by rhizomes. Vegetative reproduction by rhizomes or stolons. Internal secretions not obvious. Plants with dendritic, non-glandular, uniseriate hairs. Leaves alternate and spiral, all or mostly basal, sessile. Stipule-like lobes absent. Lamina simple, symmetric, filiform, acicular, subulate, linear, lanceolate or ovate; margins entire, ±flat; venation parallel, with the midrib conspicuous, and the tertiary venation reticulate; surfaces not punctate; leathery. Male and female flowers occurring on separate plants. Inflorescences terminal, consisting of panicles. Bracts present. Flowers stalked. Floral disc absent. Perianth regular, of 2 ±similar whorls, with 6, fused, sepaloid or petaloid segments, imbricate in bud; perianth cup-shaped or bell-shaped, yellow or green, without contrasting markings, or with contrasting markings (e.g. streaks, spots, etc.), papery. Fertile stamens 6, opposite to the outer perianth lobes, at least partly fused to the inner perianth segments, free of the ovary and style, distinct from each other, all ±equal. Staminodes present. Anthers basifixed, not versatile, opening by longitudinal slits, inwards, 2-celled. Ovary superior and sessile. Carpels 3, fused; ovary with 3 locules. Style single and unbranched, or absent and the stigma ±sessile. Ovules 1 per locule, stalked; placentation axile. Fruit a fleshy, indehiscent drupe; the perianth on the maturing fruit dry and persistent. Disseminule micro-surface ±smooth, black, glossy. Seeds 13 per fruit. Cotyledons 1. Embryo round or shapeless.
(Note: this description has been generated from the coded data compiled for the key. Any errors in the key data will be reflected in the descriptions.)

A treatment of the family Hanguanaceae has been published in:
Flora of Australia 46: 172-173.

Australian genera of Hanguanaceae (as recognised for the Flora of Australia)


Hanguana malayana (fruits)
Photo: S.Jacobs S.Jacobs 

Hanguana malayana (habit)
Photo: S.Jacobs S.Jacobs