Wednesday, July 23, 2014

I Discovered An Indian Pipe Plant

The other day I was walking through the woods.  I love the smell of the pine forest.  Petrichor is the word for the smell of earth after the rain. The woods has that damp earthy smell.

I found a wild Rose.

I found some beautiful ferns.

The new catails are forming.

A lot of pine cones.

I found some vines that are either pumpkin, squash or gourds.  We feed the animals these things in the fall when Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations are no longer needed.  The critters love them but some of the seeds get planted into the ground and they germinate in the Spring.  It is too shady in the woods, so they seldom produce anything.  Once in a while we get a little pumpkin or gourd.

Vines from pumpkins, squash or gourds.

I found some interesting fungi.  It's amazing how many colors, sizes and shapes there are.


All these were fun to discover, but the most interesting thing I found was something I couldn't identify.  I had to research what it was.  I found out it is called an Indian Pipe or Ghost plant.  It is also called a Corpse plant.  It isn't a fungus even though it looks like one.  This plant is pure white on the stem and the flower.  It doesn't have any chlorophyll.  It is very waxy and tough.  I tried to break one off to bring it inside.  I couldn't break it off.   Instead of relying on photosynthesis for energy as a green plant does, this species uses the fungi growing on roots to gain nutrients and energy.  The roots and fungi get their nutrients from the decaying organic matter in the soil.  When this plant is finished blooming it turns completely black.

An Indian Pipe plant emerging through the leaves.

This is also called a Ghost Plant.

I have lived in this area for twelve years.  I have seen them after they turned black, but I had no idea they were so interesting and really beautiful when they are in full bloom.  I wonder what wonders I will find the next time I venture out.  I will probably wait until after the frost when the mosquitoes have died off.

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