Indian Pipe

Indian_Pipe_jpgThis family, Monotropaceae, commonly called the Indian-Pipe Family consists of 10 genera and 15 species of mycotrophic herbs (myco is Greek for fungus and trophic refers to nutrition or food). These plants live on dead organic material and may also be called saprophytes. The genus Monotropa means one-sided and describes the solitary  flower. Indian Pipe is entirely lacking in chlorophyll and is white throughout.  Unlike the green plants that manufacture food from sunlight, Indian-pipe derives all it nourishment from decayed vegetable matter in the soilNative Americans used Indian Pipe to treat sore eyes, thus the name “eyebright” and valued a mixture of the juice with water as a “soothing and curative”.  The name “corpse plant” refers to its color and texture.  It is waxy-white and cool and clammy to the touch resembling the dead.

OtherCommonName:

Ghost Flower, Corpse Plant, Eyebright

ScientificName:

Monotropa uniflora

Community:

Maritime Forest

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

4 to 10 inches

FruitingTime:

August to October

Distribution:

Newfoundland to Florida, west to California and British Columbia in Canada ~ Statewide in NJ, decreasing on the outer coastal plain and rare in the Pine Barrens ~ Grows in rich woods

FloweringTime:

Early June to September

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Entire plant is white ~ Stems solitary, waxy-white, scaly ~ Flowers solitary, nodding pink or red, odorless, turns upright in fruit and becomes black, fruit a capsule ~ Petals broadly oblong, slightly