Fall Wildflowers of New England
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Indian Pipe
Monotropa uniflora
F. Monotropaceae
General Description:

Indian Pipe is a small, low-lying wildflower. Unique among wildflowers, Indian Pipe is opaque white (sometimes red-rarely pink) in color from root to petal. As indicated by its scientific name, Indian pipe has a singular nodding flower at its terminal end. The straight, thin stem has a waxy, fungus-like consistency and is irregularly sheathed in thin, translucent white bracts (reduced from leaves).

Monotropa uniflora
Flowers:

The nodding flower of the Indian Pipe is approximately 1.5-2.5 cm. long. The ball-shaped bloom has 4-5 thin translucent white petals, 10-12 stamens and a single pistil.

Fruit:

The fruit is an oval capsule-like structure that becomes enlarged and erect when the seeds mature.

Leaves:

Leaves are highly reduced and are best identified as scales or bracts. These structures are small, thin, and translucent. They do not have petioles but instead extend in a sheath-like manner out of the stem.

Habitat:

Indian pipe thrives best in woodland humus.

Fun Facts:

Indian Pipe lacks chlorophyll accounting for its translucent white color. Because it can not synthesize its own energy, this plant is a saprophyte; like a fungus, its root system soaks up necessary nutrients from surrounding decaying plant matter.

Like most saprophytic plants, Indian pipe truns dark brown to black when it is starved or in fruit.

Also known as the "Corpse Plant" or "Ghost Plant", the Indian Pipe served as inspiration for this Dickinson poem

White as an Indian Pipe
Red as a Cardinal Flower
Fabulous as a Moon at Noon
February Hour --

Monotropa uniflora
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