American Cancer-Root aka Bear Corn (Conopholis americana)
Gigantic patch growing in a shaded valley under pines and oaks in a dense mixed hardwood/coniferous forest in NW Georgia (Gordon County), US. April 10, 2018.
Conopholis americana is a parasitic, non-photosynthetic plant in the Broomrape (Orobanchaceae) Family which depends on the roots of oak and beech trees for its nourishment.
It is also a vital early spring foodstuff for bear populations and is thought to make up about 16% of the diet of bears within the Smoky and Shenandoah Mountain Regions. It comes in second place (behind acorns) as an energy source for bears.
''Conopholis americana'', the American cancer-root, is a perennial, non-photosynthesizing parasitic plant, native but not endemic to North America and when blooming, resembles a pine cone or cob of corn growing from the roots of mostly oak and beech trees.