Largely a tropical family, often of woody plants, including the sandalwoods; represented in our area by three inconspicuous species, two herbaceous with extensive somewhat woody rhizomes and one a tiny, essentially leafless epiphytic parasite. Both the herbaceous species, though bearing green leaves, are hemiparasitic, i.e., in addition to bearing green leaves they are apparently always attached (by means of modified roots, or haustoria) to some other plant. Both species also serve as alternate hosts for the canker-producing Comandra blister rust fungus (Cronartium comandrae), which in this region infects jack pine, although not as a serious enemy. The life cycle is similar to that of the better known white pine blister rust. The leaves of many plants, especially of Comandra umbellata, appear almost golden in late summer because of the rust infection.
1. Plant an essentially leafless, non-green parasite on the branches of coniferous trees.
1. Plant leafy, green, terrestrial.
2. Flowers white (rarely pinkish), bright green basally, all or mostly in a terminal inflorescence of few to many cymules; fruit a dry or slightly fleshy green or yellowish drupe less than 6 mm in diameter; cymules with all flowers bisexual, the filiform style ca. 1.5–2.5 mm long; sepals usually becoming ca. twice as long as broad, or longer.
2. Flowers greenish brown or purplish, in 2–3-flowered cymules on peduncles in the axils of middle or upper leaves; fruit a juicy orange to red drupe ca. 7–12 mm in diameter; cymules usually with only 1 flower bisexual, the style less than 0.5 mm long; sepals broadly triangular, less than 1.5 times as long as broad.
All species found in Santalaceae
MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. August 19, 2017. http://michiganflora.net/family.aspx?id=Santalaceae.