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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - August 09, 2007

From: Blumenort, MB
Region: Canada
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identification of Monotropa uniflora
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I found a peculiar flower in Nopoming Provincial Forest, Manitoba last weekend (August 4th). I found it growing in moss on top of rock (the Canadian shield). It was in shade. About 3 or 4 were clumped together. They were entirely white. They were entirely the same texture (almost rubbery?). They each started from a straight smooth stem coming up out of the moss and wrapped tightly over (like a candy cane, but more closely to the stem). Then a flower with stiff petals facing towards the ground. Do you know what it was??? I had never seen anything like it before. It was about six inches tall, and all white.

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants thinks what you saw was Monotropa uniflora (Indianpipe), a very unusual plant that is associated with a fungus that parasitizes the roots of green plants; thus, the Indianpipe parasitizes the parasite for its nutrients. Previously, the Genus Monotropa was in the Family Ericaceae (Heath Family) which contains blueberries, cranberries and azaleas. Now it has its very own family, Family Monotropaceae.

You can read more about Monotropa uniflora and other members of the Monotropaceae.


Monotropa uniflora

Monotropa uniflora

 

 

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