Saturday, August 25, 2007

Indian Pipe

It's that time of year when the Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) start popping up everywhere in the woods, raising their ghostly little stems through the leaf litter. This clump is just unfurling its small hanging flowers... yes, it is a true flowering plant, not a fungus; in fact it is classified in the same family as rhododendrons and blueberries (I think taxonomists do have a sense of humor after all). Indian pipe is a saprophyte, relying for its nutrients on soil fungi that in turn grow on tree roots.
There are many odd little things that grow in Iowa's forests, but this is surely one of the oddest.
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I saw some of these in the woods the other day, but didn't know what it was. Thanks for the info. They sure are odd looking, aren't they?
You beat me to the punch, I have a shot of a relative of these blooming in my neck of the woods from a month ago, and was going to post about it. They are very different.
I always enjoy your post, BOB
How did you identify them?
Sandy... all the saprophytes seem to look odd.

Bob... I'm looking forward to seeing your picture... pinedrops?

Shady... I guess I've known what they are ever since I was a kid.
I'll have to check our woods to see if I can find these. It seems to be full of all other kinds of wildflowers, so maybe I'll find some of these, too!
Actually, on Sunday's walk in the woods... I found some. Mine weren't quite as lovely as yours (yet?). But I got photos!
Wonderful photo of an interesting and unique plant. I first saw a photo of it in a wildflower book but have yet to see one in person. The book mentioned that it is also called "ghost flower" and "corpse plant" because of its lack of coloration.
Kylee, Shady, and Ki... they are pretty common around here, but often in the heat and dryness of August they don't last long, so it's easy to miss them. This is a banner year for them, with all the rain we've had!
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