Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes
Indian Pipes

There is something magical about finding Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora) in the deep shaded woods. I always feel like I have found a treasure.  The short stem (3-9 inches) and single nodding flower contains no chlorophyll, and has scale like bracks instead of leaves.  The entire plant is translucent white with hints of pink.  It has an elaborate root system which helps the plant get nutrients and is one of the mycotrophic (myco means fungus and trophic means nutrition) wildflowers.

A grouping of these ghostly plants are usually found among the leaf litter in June or July in moist soil. The flowers are pollinated by a small bee after which the flower straightens up and forms the seed capsule. The seeds are dispersed by the wind.