I came across a fascinating plant today – Monotropa uniflora – known commonly by various names – ghost plant, ghost pipe, Indian pipe or corpse plant. It typically grows when there is a good deal of rain after a dry spell and so I sometimes see it when I’m foraging for mushrooms. What is remarkable about this plant is that unlike most plants it contains no chlorophyll. It’s a parasitic plant, on host fungi which have a micorrhizal relationship with trees. In other words it gets energy from trees but needs fungi to do so.
I have never seen a ghost plant before. Kind of spooky.
They’re unusual, and very striking. Usually when I see them while out foraging for edible mushrooms, it’s a sign that there will be plenty of mushrooms in the forest, but not today. Conditions were perfect but mushrooms were scarce.