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Indian Pipe, Ghost Flower, Ghost Plant - Monotropa uniflora


Family: Monotropaceae - Indian Pipe family Genus Common Name: Indian Pipe Native Status: Native
Monotropa uniflora - Indian Pipe, Ghost Flower, Ghost Plant. When first seen, Indian Pipe seems more like a mushroom or other fungus than like a true flowering plant due to the color - or lack of color. However, it has a stem, bract-like scales in place of leaves, and a single flower at the end of the stem. The single flower gives it the species epithet - uniflora - which is a key difference between this species and Monotropa hypopitys the only other species in the Montropa genus. Monotropa hypopitys (Pinesap) has multiple flowers in a cluster on each stem.

Indian Pipe has roots through which it gathers its nourishment. The plant lacks chlorophyll but instead gets its nutrients through a mutually beneficial relationship with a fungus in the soil where it grows.

Found in:
AK, AL, AR, CA, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

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Check here for more information about Monotropa uniflora.
Monotropa uniflora

Distribution of Monotropa uniflora in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 26 Apr 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: GSMNP - Little Greenbrier School Date: 2005-June-19Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
The fact that these are white indicates that the flowers are not yet fertilized, when they will turn a pale pink. The flowers are nodding when they first emerge from the ground.
Monotropa uniflora

Site: Big Frog Mountain, Polk County, TN Date: 2004-June-12Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
This blossom is starting to turn pink, indicating that it has been fertilized.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Monotropa uniflora

Site: Big Frog Mountain, Polk County, TN Date: 2004-June-12Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
As Indian Pipe matures, it straightens out until the blossom is held vertically.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Monotropa uniflora

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer