Sunday, August 2, 2009

Indian Pipes

Down at the end of the Pin Oak Trail I was excited to discover a group of strange pale plants that have emerged from the ground in the last few weeks. They look like they might be mushrooms, but these are actually flowering plants known as Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora. Indian Pipes are parasitic on a fungus that is in a mutualistic relationship with a tree. Since they get all of their energy from the fungus (who gets it from the tree) Indian Pipes do not need green chlorophyll to make sugar from sunlight, hence their pale white coloration. If you tilt the flower up slightly, you can see the yellow pollen, proving that these are indeed flowers, and not mushrooms.
For more detailed information on Indian Pipes and their weird and wonderful lifestyle, try these links:

http://www.curiousnature.info/A1-Indian%20Pipe.htm

http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/oct2002.html

2 comments:

Susan Ashby said...

Very interesting blog! I need to connect with you and show you all the photos I have on my blog - all the plants and weed photos I have taken at Eagle Creek Park. Susan Ashby

Anonymous said...

Dawn! you still remember me from DTG? haven't heared from you in ages (actually, last time I remember was when I was in Rome and gave you that shirt). how are you?
If you like, you can always contact me at andyswan_fans on myspace :)

love

Mel (gubes_girl)