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Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora.

The Amazing Monotropa uniflora.

Some of the common names that this plant is known by are Indianpipe,Corpse plant, Ice plant and Bird’s nest, the latter referring to the mass of tangled roots that this plant has.

I have received several e-mails regarding this curiousity and you can be forgiven for thinking that it is a fungus,it is in fact, a plant

Shining ghostly white in dark and damp woods this plant has totally lost its ability to photosynthesize and has a very interesting relationship with fungi.

It is only recently that the full extent of Indian Pipes relationship with fungi has been discovered. For many years it was believed that Indian pipe was a saprophyte existing on dead and decaying organic material. Actually, it’s real relationship is not saprophytic but rather parasitic on a fungus that is in a mycorrhizal association with a tree. In particular, Indian pipe seems to form exclusive relationships with mushrooms from the genus Russula. 

To learn more about saprophytic,parasitic and mycorrhizal relationships click here.

A group of Indian Pipe,Monotropa uniflora.

Indian Pipe,Monotropa uniflora in close-up.

As it matures it becomes black and erect.

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