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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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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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