Ghost in the Woods

Published on: Oct. 31, 2007

You could say this is a stretch, but it is Halloween and a perfect time to mention one of Missouri’s spooky little plants. The Indian pipe, sometimes called “ghost flower” is a rootless little thing. Lacking chlorophyll, the plant depends on the fungi to carry nutrients from nearby trees.

indian pipeIt grows in North, South and Central American forests and those of China, Japan and the Himalayas too. That’s a pretty scattered spread for something without roots or chlorophyll. I’ve only seen it when it really looks ghostly at the time it flowers. But after seeing a photo of what they look like in the late autumn woods (brown, heads up) I’m going to have to keep my eyes open.

The thing that’s so strangely wonderful about this plant is the reminder of the whole hidden realm of fungi, a web connecting things underground that we don’t see, don’t think of, yet makes all sorts of life possible—including ghostly plants like these.

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On October 3rd, 2010 at 11:03pm Trisha said:

Good accessory to use for a pirate costume this Halloween!

On October 1st, 2010 at 6:34am Stephanie said:

Oh, they look rather cute :) Interesting plant indeed, a plant without chlorophyll...

On August 11th, 2010 at 8:25pm Annie said:

Yes, a bit of a stretch but that is a very interesting plant.
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