Did I scare you? If I didn’t, I bet these Ghost Pipes just might. Also known as Corpse Plant, Monotropa uniflora is always a treat to find. I usually spot a few when walking through Umstead State Park. But this year, large colonies of these fascinating flowers were growing under a maple tree in my garden. Yes, I said flowers! Most people think they’re a fungus, and they do look a little more fungus-like than flowery. They look like little alien shrimps emerging through the soil. I enjoyed watching them grow. Some that got a little more sunlight had a pink tinge. They were a welcome surprise!
Here’s some great info on these interesting flowers from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences blog:
“Ghost Pipes are white, not green, because they lack chlorophyll. Green plants need chlorophyll to produce glucose from water and carbon dioxide using the sun’s energy in photosynthesis. Ghost Pipes took a very different evolutionary path from their green relatives. They are parasitic on fungi that are in a mycorrhizal association with a tree. The fungus/tree relationship is mutually beneficial, while Ghost Pipes are strictly a third-wheel parasite on the fungus. Ghost Pipes receive food produced by the tree via the fungus on the tree roots.”
Read the entire piece here:
As they age, they begin to lift their little heads–blooms–upward toward the sky. Might we all be so wise. I’m sure there are other strange, otherworldly, or downright ghoulish plants out there, but I think Ghost Pipes might just be my favorite.
Happy Halloween! And a blessed Samhain! Stay safe. 🎃