I’m Loving Monotropa Uniflora… aka Indian Pipe or Ghost Plant

Aug 16, 2019 | Love This!

Today, I’m loving a plant that you can’t buy. But if it appears in your garden, you can enjoy its fleeting beauty.

Name: Monotropa uniflora aka Indian pipe, ghost plant or corpse plant.

Type of Plant: This isn’t a plant that you can buy, but if you’re lucky you might find it in your shade gardens. These pure white perennials grow to about six inches high, and look like a pipe set up on it’s stem.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: How many plants do you now that are pure white? Monotropa is one and that’s right, they have no trace of green. These are curious plants that look like a fungus but are in reality a perennial that does not make chlorophyll. They are usually found growing in the woods because they get their energy from the mycorrhizal fungi that grow with tree roots. So they depend on the energy that the trees are producing in order to live.

A Word to the Wise: These ghostly looking plants don’t do any harm so there is no reason to get rid of them when they appear. They tend to be short-lived, so enjoy the phenomenon while you can.

Here is the Monotropa emerging in June. Note that it’s growing in a circle, because it’s expanding its territory from the middle out, much as other perennials do.

Later in the summer the pipe shapes are more evident. They form a cluster under my bench in the shade garden…I think of them as doing a circle dance in the shelter of my garden ornaments.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy Ulin

    I was puzzled when I saw a few of these–thought maybe they were ferns, but the color was unusual. Thank you for enlightening me!


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