Ghost Pipe Flower
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Only occasionally do I get to walk alone in the woods anymore.
I used to go into this particular stretch of land (Hope Falls, NY Tennent Creek Falls Trail in Wilcox Lake Wild Forest) all the time when I was a kid without any desire to capture any moment on film. (Remember when there was film?) I did ridiculous things when I was kid without any direction. Now I have kids and my alone time is pretty much down to zero. I don't always have an easy time sharing space with humans. Dogs are my kind of people. So I got dropped off in the woods (on what I thought would be) a good weather day.
I had a rushed morning and a hurt back. I got this shot because of muscle relaxers and a slowed pace. Fortunately I didn't step on this lovely specimen. It was hiding behind the log I almost tripped over. After grumbling to myself I saw this fantastic plant.
I didn't even know what I had until I posted it on Instagram. A friend told me how rare they are and demanded I take her where I found it. Apparently they have medicinal properties.
Here's the research my badass girlfriend did...
The Ghost Pipe Flower (monotropa uniflora) is not a fungus! This is a flowering plant that has no chlorophyll. It has evolved a parasitic relationship to a network of ground fungi which utilize nutrients from the surrounding trees to acquire sugars. Therefore they have no need for chlorophyll.
The only limitation to their range seems to be elevation above sea level and a desert environment. They are native to 3 continents.