A very different wildflower

Indian pipe is different from any of the plants previously shown in this blog. It also has the most interesting survival strategy.

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)

Unlike most plants, Indian Pipe has no chlorophyll and does not depend on the sun. This clump of it was thriving in a deeply shaded forest setting. However it is not a fungus, it is in the Ericaceae family of plants, the same family as blueberries and azaleas.

The Indian Pipe survives as a parasite of the Russulaceae family of fungi in a relation known as mycotropism. Fungi are thought of as parasites of plants, but actually plants and fungi are commonly in a mutually beneficial relationship (mycorrhiza). Fungi receive sugars from the plants and give the plants nutrients that they have liberated by breaking down vegetative debris in soil. Indian Pipes seem truly parasitic though, fungi don’t appear to realize any benefit in return for feeding them.

Published by jimr77

Recently retired, loving life in northern Minnesota

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