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Monotropa uniflora (Indianpipe)
Cressler, Alan

Monotropa uniflora

Monotropa uniflora L.

Indianpipe, Indian Pipe

Monotropaceae (Indian Pipe Family)

Synonym(s): Monotropa brittonii

USDA Symbol: MOUN3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

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

42 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 1 foot tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: 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 Conditions

Light 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)


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plant identification
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 ...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 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 Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1989 VOL. 6, NO.4 - Spring Climbs Rockies Slowly, Colorado Cooler, Conference of Wildflower and Nati...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Monotropa uniflora in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Monotropa uniflora in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Monotropa uniflora


Record Modified: 2023-04-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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