Monotropa uniflora L.
Indianpipe, Indian Pipe
Monotropaceae (Indian Pipe Family)
Synonym(s): Monotropa brittonii
USDA Symbol: MOUN3
Monotropa uniflora is achlorophyllous and is mycoheterotrophic; that is, it utilizes fungi to obtain carbon from the roots of autotrophic plants.
Waxy white plant that blackens with age; stems covered with scaly bracts and terminated by a solitary nodding flower that looks like a shepherd’s hook.
These plants were once believed to absorb all nutrients from decayed organic material, but it is now known that they are associated with a fungus, which obtains nutrients directly from the roots of green plants. Indian Pipe, therefore, is more of a parasite, with the fungus as a "bridge" between it and its host. The plant turns black as the fruit ripens or when it is picked and dried.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
DistributionUSA: AK , AL , AR , CA , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE
Native Distribution: Northwestern California to Alaska; east across the northern part of the western and most of the eastern United States.
Native Habitat: Deep shaded woods.
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Conditions Comments: This non-green, waxy plant gets its nourishment parasitically from mycorhizal fungi on autotrophic plant roots. The plant turns black as the fruit ripens or when it is picked and dried. (Niering)
BenefitConspicuous Flowers: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
September 24, 2008
I found a flower about 5 inches tall and it is Pinkish White the head of it hangs down and looks like a rose that hasn't bloomed yet. It reminds me of an Orchid like Fairy . Its Mystic like! what is ...
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National Wetland Indicator Status
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.4 - Spring Climbs Rockies Slowly, Colorado Cooler, Conference of Wildflower and Nati...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Monotropa uniflora in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Monotropa uniflora in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Monotropa uniflora
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-04-18
Research By: TWC Staff