Afrothismia winkleri (Engl.) Schlecht.

Specimen of Afrothismia winkleri in ethanol The genus Afrothismia (Burmanniaceae) comprises three species from central Afrika. So far, there are only eight publications which mention the genus: the first description as Thismia winkleri (Engler, 1905), its renaming (Schlechter, 1906), two monographs on Thismieae and Burmanniaceae (Schlechter, 1921; Jonker, 1938), three floristic accounts (Engler, 1908; Hepper, 1968; Cowley, 1988), and the investigation on seed micromorphology by Rübsamen (1986, p. 142). These publications acknowledge only briefly the peculiar root morphology of A. winkleri, but emphasize floral characters. The underground parts are rarely seen.
Have a look on its unusual root/rhizome system. The rhizome is densely packed with roots that develop a tuber-like basal part and a tail-like extension. I partly removed the roots from the specimen on the picture to the right in order to show the rhizome. Root/rhizome system of Afrothismia winkleri
Close up of a rhizome tip of Afrothismia winkleri And beyond that, even more bizarre is the mycorrhizal pattern of this species. It seems as if A. winkleri forces the root fungus to do several jobs for it. Even macroscopically the strange mycorrhiza is foreshadowed (see the arrows), although these hyphal loops are only part of the story. If you are interested, read the following abstract or publication:

Last revised on 15 February 2001 by Stephan Imhof