pink Monotropa

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) in the woods of Middlesex Fells outside Boston.

This is an angiosperm (flowering plant) which has lost its chloroplasts and adopted a lifestyle more typical of fungi: it feeds only through its roots and emerges from the soil only for the sake of reproduction. Ironically, it parasitises fungi which themselves colonize tree roots.

Believe it or not, Indian Pipe is classified in the heath family (Ericacae) along with blueberries and rhododendrons.

Usually Indian Pipe is pure white, but pink specimens like this one are not too rare. A deep red variety also exists, but I've never seen it.

September 2007.


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