Indian Pipes
Monotropa uniflora
Family Pyrolaceae
Late summer 2002

Indian Pipes are, in my opinion, the most fascinating of our native wildflowers here in Virginia. People have asked me if they are plants or some strange fungus, and I can easily see how they might wonder that, with their eerie white leafless stalks poking up through the leaf litter on the forest floor. They are plants, but they lack chlorophyll, which is the green pigmentation in other plants that allow them to manufacture food from sunlight. This means they have to find sustenance another way, so they are saprophytic. According to the Web of Species site, this means "they have a symbiotic relationship with fungi, which break down organic matter around the plant's root and provide a constant supply of nutrients." The upside to this arrangement is that they can grow in very shady places.

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Indian Pipes 1 Indian Pipes 2 Indian Pipes 3 Indian Pipes 4 Indian Pipes 5
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Indian Pipes 6 Indian Pipes 7

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