Corsiaceae are an intriguing family of mycoheterotrophic plants from the rain forests of southern South America (Arachnitis), Australasia (Corsia), and China (Corsiopsis).


Classification: Monocots, Liliales

Genera: Arachnitis, Corsia, Corsiopsis

Diversity: Corsiaceae comprise three genera and 27 species. All species are fully mycoheterotrophic. The largest genus is Corsia (25 species).

Distribution and habitat: Corsiaceae have a remarkable disjunct distribution, occurring in tropical and subantarctic South America (Arachnitis), China (Corsiopsis), and tropical Australasia (Corsia).

Fungi: Corsiaceae grow on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi.

Fun fact: Mycoheterotrophic plants usually grow in forests, but Arachnitis has been recorded on the treeless East Falkland Island, “growing in sand amongst rocks on an eroded sandstone ridge”



Corsia sp. (Corsiaceae) – Papua New Guinea. Photo by Stephanie Lyon