Indianpipe

(Monotropa uniflora)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

Indianpipe

NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Wetland
Indicator
Status

Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland

Midwest

FACU - Facultative upland

Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland

Nativity

Native

Occurrence

Scattered and uncommon

Habitat

Moderately moist to dry upland forests; bottomland forests; coniferous forests, mixed-deciduous forests.

Flowering

June to September

     
Flower Color

White

     
Height

2 to 11½

     

Identification

This plant is a mycotrophic epiparasite. It receives water and other nutrients by tapping into the thread-like cells (hyphae) of the vegetative part (mycelium) of soilborne mycorrhizal fungi. It parasitizes only Russula and Lactarius species, both members of the Russulaceae family. While the soilborne fungi feed on the roots of trees in a mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship, Indianpipe provides no benefit to the host fungus or host plant.

Indianpipe is white because it contains no chlorophyll. It rises on a solitary stem or a cluster of stems from a more or less spherical mass of short, poorly-developed roots.

The stem is erect, unbranched, round in cross section, and 2 to 11½ tall. It is translucent, fleshy, hairless, and usually white, sometimes tinged with red. It turns black when it dries.

The leaves are reduced to bract-like scales. They are stalkless, lance-shaped, 3 16 to 9 16 long, and to ¼ wide. Like the stem, they are white and translucent. They are slightly sac-like at the base and sharply pointed at the tip. The margins are usually unlobed and untoothed, rarely slightly irregularly cut, as if torn. The upper surface is hairless. The lower surface has scattered hairs.

The inflorescence is a solitary ½ to ¾ long flower nodding at the top of the stem. The flower is subtended by a single leaf-like bract.

The flower is broadly tubular or bell shaped and ½ to ¾ long. There are usually 5, sometimes 4 sepals; usually 5 but as few as 3 or as many as 6 petals; 8 to 14 stamens; and 1 style. The sepals are similar to the bracts. They are white, separate, and may be lance-shaped, spatula-shaped, oblong, or elliptic. They are usually shed before the flower is fully open. The petals are usually white, sometimes tinged with red. They are separate, broadly oblong or inversely egg-shaped, to ¾ long, and 3 16 to in wide. They are usually covered with minute hairs on the inner surface. They are easily bruised and often have black flecks. The stamens do not project beyond the petals. They are in two whorled series, the inner series longer than the outer series. The filaments are white. The anthers are elliptic. The stigma is broad, prominent, and inversely cone-shaped.

The fruit is a globe-shaped to egg-shaped, to ½ long, 5 16 to in wide capsule with numerous seeds. It is held erect at the end of the stem.

 
Similar
Species

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 25, 28.


Comments

Parasitism
Indianpipe was once thought to be saprophytic, getting its nutrients from decaying organic matter. It is now known that they are mycotrophic, meaning they parasitize a narrow range of fungi in the Russulaceae family.


Taxonomy

Family:

Ericaceae (heath)

 

Subfamily:

Pyroloideae

 

Tribe:

Monotropeae

 
Synonyms

Monotropa brittonii

 
Common
Names

convulsion-root

corpse plant

ghost plant

Indian pipe

Indian-pipe

Indianpipe


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk or flower cluster.

 

epiparasite

A parasite that feeds on another parasite; a secondary parasite.

 

filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

hypha

A thread-like cell of a fungus that is the main mode of vegetative growth: the basic structural unit of a multicellular fungus. Collectively, the hyphae of a fungus is the mycelium.

 

mycelium

The vegetative part of a fungus; consisting of a mass of branching, thread-like hyphae, through which a fungus absorbs nutrients from its environment; and excluding the fruiting, reproductive structure.

 

mycorrhizal

A symbiotic, usually beneficial relationship between a fungus and the tiny rootlets of a plant, usually a tree.

 

mycotrophic

Receiving nutrients from the mycorrhizal fungus on the roots of a host plant.

 

saprophytic

Obtaining nutrients from non-living organic matter, such as decaying plant or animal matter.

 

sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

       

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Bill Reynolds


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Slideshows

   
  Monotropa uniflora
Zi W
 
  Monotropa uniflora  
     
  Indian Pipe
DianesDigitals
 
  Indian Pipe  
 
About

Copyright DianesDigitals

 
     
  Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)  
     
  Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)
Bill Keim
 
  Ghost Plant (Monotropa uniflora)  
     
  Monotropa uniflora (Indian-Pipe)
Allen Chartier
 
  Monotropa uniflora (Indian-Pipe)  
     
  Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
colong7034
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 25, 2013

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is a parasite, obtaining its nutrients from fungi that have mycorrhizal relationships with trees, As they age, the Indian pipe plants change color from almost translucent white to black. Transylvania County, NC. Shot September 2013

 
     

 

slideshow

     

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Other Videos

 
  Indian Pipe [Monotropa uniflora]
BlackOwlOutdoors
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 14, 2013

Krik of Black Owl Outdoors identifies Monotropa uniflora, or Indian Pipe. Indian Pipe is a parasitic plant with no chlorophyll, yet still flowers and produces pollen like regular green plants.

 
     
  MYSTERIOUS GHOST PLANT or INDIAN PIPE
onceIhadalove
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 6, 2011

Unlike most other flowers in the world, this shadowy, flowering plant does not require sunlight to live. Considered worldwide to be rare, but found infrequently in eastern, USA woodlands, it survives by attaching itself to a fungus. Then, the fungus attaches itself to the roots of nearby green plants. The three then live together in a strange relationship on the dark forest floor. As soon as this relationship takes place, amazingly, the fugus brings nutrients to the Ghost Flower from the green plant! Is is unknown what the fungus gets in return. Oddly, the Ghost Plant is related to Cranberries and Blueberries! Video: Brian La Fountain

 
     
  Ghost Plant or Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 20, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (20 August 2010). Go here to learn more about this achlorophytic plant: http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/interesting/mycotrophic/monotropa_uniflora.shtml And here is another good reference: http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/oct2002.html

 
     
  Identifying Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora
MyNatureApps
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jan 3, 2012

How to identify Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora also known as Ghost Plant or Corpse Plant. www.mynatureapps.com

 
     
  Indian Pipe in the Forest
Twin Cities Naturalist
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Aug 2, 2010

From http://www.twincitiesnaturalist.com Myco-heterozygotes in the woods! Conditions were just right this year for hundreds of Indian Pipe to come up in the Minnesota woods.

 
     

 

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Jennifer Parker
8/15/2016

Location: Blackhawk Lake Eagan MN


Bill Reynolds
8/1/2009

Location: Roseau Co.

 

Indianpipe


     
     
 

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