Indianpipe

(Monotropa uniflora)

Conservation Status
Indianpipe
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  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

     
           
 
Description
 
 

Indianpipe 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.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

2 to 11½

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

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

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

June to September

 
     
 

Parasitism

 
 

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

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 25, 28.

 
  1/9/2014      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Scattered and uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Ericales (heathers, balsams, primroses, and allies)  
 

Family

Ericaceae (heath)  
  Subfamily Monotropoideae  
  Tribe Monotropeae  
 

Genus

Monotropa (Indianpipe)  
       
 

The genus Monotropa was formerly placed in the family Monotropaceae. In 2002, Monotropaceae and four other families were placed in the heath family (Ericaceae).

 
       
 

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, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

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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Cassandra Lenhard
       
  Indianpipe   Indianpipe
       
Kirk Nelson
       
  Indianpipe    
       
Bill Reynolds
       
  Indianpipe    
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Plant

  Indianpipe   Indianpipe
       

Flower

  Indianpipe   Indianpipe
       
       

 

Camera

     
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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Cassandra Lenhard
8/11/2018

Location: Interstate State Park (MN)

Indianpipe


Kirk Nelson
8/14/2017

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

 

Indianpipe


Jennifer Parker
8/15/2016

Location: Blackhawk Lake Eagan MN


Bill Reynolds
8/1/2009

Location: Roseau Co.

 

Indianpipe


     
     
 
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