Indian Pipe is not a fungus. It’s a flowering plant related to Rhododendrons and blueberries, which sounds very improbable. This plant does not have chlorophyll to make its nutrients, so it lives parasitically by tapping into fungi that live in the soil (and are obtaining THEIR nutrients from tree roots, usually beech and pines). So they can grow in the dark because they don’t use the sun. And, they can’t be transplanted, because they need their connection to the underground fungus, which needs its tree roots. There is a Cherokee story that the Great Spirit was displeased with a council of elders who had quarreled with each other, and changed the old chiefs, with their bowed heads, into these flowers to remind the people to make peace. Native.
Indian Pipe, Ghost Plant, Corpse Plant (Monotropa uniflora)
The bonus picture, totally unrelated: B’s boss had been given some sweets by a friend who had just been in Paris. He was having trouble giving them away at the office! B brought them home to me. First I saw the label: Ladurée Paris! Only the world’s most famous maker of macarons! And that’s what they are!
You find the most fascinating things growing in your woods! This is not the corpse plant we have seen at Eastern, but “corpse” named for an entirely different reason. Just wondering whether this was just something small that you had to work hard to see or whether it is a bigger, in your face type structure.
Bonus: How could they ignore the beauty and fine taste of those exceptional sweets! Pretty picture.
They’re easy to spot, partly because they’re so white they really show against the brown earth and leaf litter, and also because they’re always in a cluster. (Although not usually a circle, like these.)
The size is kind of between Q-tips and cigarettes. So if you imagine a cluster of plump Q-tips with nodding heads sticking out of the ground — you’d notice them!