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Monday - July 20, 2009

From: Beltzville, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: ID of odd woodland plant in PA?
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Found in the woods in Eastern Pennsylvania. It is about 8 inches tall and were found in clusters of 3 to 10. They are clear. with pink and black tops. Similar to a flower, but snaps like a fungus. What is it?

ANSWER:

It is rare that we are able to identify a plant from a description alone.  This might be one of those rare cases.  We think your mystery plant is Monotropa uniflora (Indianpipe), a parasitic vascular plant.  Technically, it's a myco-heterotroph, a plant that uses a fungus as sort of a go-between to get its needed nutrients from host plants.  Indian pipes contain no chlorophyll and cannot photosynthesize -- thus the white coloration of the plant.


Monotropa uniflora

 

 

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