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

28 comments:

  1. they look lovely, I can't remember ever having seen one before…

    Have a heartwarming en splendid ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    M e l o d y (team ABC-W)
    https://melodyk.nl/25-I

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    1. They are on the moist forest floor here in the Pacific Northwest and BC. - Margy

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  2. I have this in our forest! It's such a lovely little surprise.

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    1. It was such a surprise to look down on my way along a trail and see them popping up. - Margy

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  3. What a lovely and unusual plant!

    I'm happy to see your link on 'My Corner of the World' this week! Thanks for linking up!


    My Corner of the World

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    1. They are for sure. Thanks for giving us a place to share. - Margy

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  4. If I ever come across Indian Pipe, I'll know what it is, thanks to you, Margy.

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    1. I was too until I looked them up. - Margy

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  6. I've never seen those before - just lovely. I hope to soon catch up on my blog reading. Happy week ahead my friend.

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    1. I've seen them in Washington too, up at Silver Lake. - Margy

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  7. I've seen this ghostly plant in the woods, but did not know it was called Indian Pipe. Very interesting.

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    1. Funny how some plant get several common names. - Margy

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  8. I've found it a few times. Always felt a little excited to see it.

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    1. I looked down and thought it was debris at first, then on lose inspection I found something special. - Margy

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  9. I've never seen it in person - most unusual!

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    1. They are quite short lived and the conditions have to be just right. - Margy

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  10. it is always exciting to find a plant you didn't expect when out bush walking. Have a great week and thank you for visiting my blog this week.

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    1. I haven't been bush walking enough lately. - Margy

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  11. Hello, The Indian Pipe is an usual plant. I have seen it during our walks. There is always something to see, we only have to look. Wishing you a happy day and new week!

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    1. I find more things watching my feet while trying not to trip. - Margy

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  12. Margy - what a fabulous find! I have never seen one - probably unlikely in our dry area. My most fascinating find has been the Calypso Orchid. Even though I have seen it quite a few times, it still gives me a little thrill! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

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  13. Wow! I haven't seen any around here. We found a few in Tahsis a couple of years ago.

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    1. I had some on the hill above the cabin one year. - Margy

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  14. That was so interesting and I learned something new..... Can definitely see why they are called ghost plants. And also definitely see why they are rare finds. Thanks for sharing the results of your keen eye and your knowledge! It’s pourng rain here in Eugene...seems a bit too early, tho it is needed.

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    1. I like that about blogging, you can learn so many new things. I bet you have some around Eugene as well. - Margy

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We welcome your comments and questions. - Wayne and Margy