Ghost Plant

Monotropa uniflora

''Monotropa uniflora'', also known as the Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant is a herbaceous perennial plant, formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae, but now included within the Ericaceae. It is native to temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas. It is generally scarce or rare in occurrence.
Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, (Monotropa uniflora) Finally, a chance to photograph a beautiful specimen of this very interesting plant. Last year’s stalks are clearly visible behind this year’s. Unfortunately my favourite site where there were numerous plants had been “harvested” with every above ground plant part cut at ground level. Perhaps this article, ,may be the explanation. My only hope is that they return next year. Canada,Geotagged,Ghost Plant,Monotropa uniflora,Summer


The plant is sometimes completely white but commonly has black flecks and a pale pink coloration. Rare variants may have a deep red color.

The stems reach heights of 10–30 cm, clothed with small scale-leaves 5–10 mm long. As its scientific name suggests, and unlike the related ''Monotropa hypopitys'' , the stems bear only a single flower, 10–15 mm long with 3-8 petals. It flowers from early summer to early autumn.
Indian Pipe, Corpse Plant or Ghost Plant Montage. I returned to one of my favourite places (tempted to use “haunts”) to see how the Monotropa uniflora was doing. As can be seen from this montage it is doing very well. No one has harvested it this year and it has spread to both sides of the trail. It was interesting to see the pink hued variation. Pretty? There were many more plants than presented here. The image at the top right shows last year’s blossoms still standing.  Canada,Geotagged,Ghost Plant,Monotropa uniflora


Like most mycoheterotrophic plants, ''M. uniflora'' associates with a small range of fungal hosts, all of them members of Russulaceae.

''M. uniflora'' displaying its common, light pink coloring.
''Monotropa uniflora'' displaying the rare red coloration.
''Monotropa uniflora'' displaying a pink coloration.
''Monotropa uniflora'' displaying a red coloration.
Leaves are scale-like, without chlorophyll, alternating on a waxy stem.
Each of ten anthers open via two curving slits.
''Montropa uniflora'' growing in numbers at Camano Island State Park.
Ghost Plant... ... good name! 
These were sprouting in an otherwise barren space in a mixed forest.  Canada,Geotagged,Ghost Plant,Monotropa uniflora,Summer


Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.


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