Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Coastal BC Plants: Indian Pipe

I is for Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe poking up through the moist duff.
I was walking through a grove of mature hemlocks and firs when a spot of white caught my eye. What I thought was debris on the ground turned out to be an exciting find, Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) emerging after days of rain with warm temperatures.

These pictures were taken on July 11. We were supposed to have a dry, hot summer, but unexpected rain changed growing conditions, especially in the shaded forest understory.

These specimens were just emerging, so they were a brilliant white. At maturity, they turn dark or black. Another common name is Ghost Plant, you can see why.


Indian Pipe is a herbaceous (non-woody) perennial (lives from year to year) plant. It's white because there is no chlorophyll. Nourishment comes from underground fungi associated with tree roots. You can find Indian Pipe in temperate, moist zones of Asia and North America.


They appear after dry spells followed by periods of rain. The white stems, rise from a fleshy root mass. The plants reach their full height (5–30 centimetres) in just a few days. Small leaf-like structures are translucent, giving them their ghostly appearance. At the top there is a single flower that droops downward, looking like an upside-down pipe, until the fruiting body is mature.


Have you ever discovered an unusual plant? What was it? Where did you find it?

References: E-Flora BC Atlas: Monotropa uniflora and Wikipedia: Monotropa uniflora.


For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-fifth round of this popular meme.

And a Wednesday linkup My Corner of the World at Photographing New Zealand.

Another fun meme is All Seasons. Stop by and take a look.

A for a new favourite of mine, visit Letting Go of the Bay Leaf for Mosaic Monday. -- Margy