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Overview

Comprehensive Description

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Because of its ghostly white appearance, some people may confuse Indian Pipe for a fungus. This species belongs to a small group of saprophytic flowering plants that have abandoned photosynthesis. A similar species, Monotropa hypopithys (Pinesap), also occurs in Illinois, but it is less common. Unlike Indian Pipe, Pinesap produces several nodding flowers on each stem; these flowers are arranged in a short raceme. Pinesap is more likely to be tinted different colors (including bright red), and it is often pubescent.
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Description

This native perennial wildflower typically consists of a cluster of unbranched erect stems about 3-9" tall. These stems are terete, white (sometimes tinted pink), translucent, fleshy, and hairless. The alternate leaves are scale-like and small; like the stems, they are white, translucent, and hairless. Each stem terminates in a single white flower about ½–¾" long that is nodding to nearly erect; this flower is narrowly bell-shaped, consisting of 2-4 sepals and 4-5 petals. The petals are longer and more persistent than the sepals. Within the interior of the flower, there are 10-12 stamens surrounding a stout style. The time of year when flowers are produced can be highly variable, extending from late spring into the fall. However, the blooming period for individual plants lasts only 1-2 weeks. The flowers produce no obvious floral scent. After the blooming period, the entire plant becomes dark brown or black, and each flower is replaced by an erect ovoid seed capsule about ½" long. This seed capsule is 5-celled and contains numerous tiny seeds, which are easily blown about by the wind after the capsule splits open. The root system consists of a mat of brittle fleshy roots. This wildflower is saprophytic and lacks chlorophyll in its tissues; it forms either a symbiotic or parasitic association with mycorrhizal fungi through its roots. Cultivation
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General Description

Herbs white when fresh, fleshy, becoming black when dry, usually glabrous. Inflorescence erect, scapose, 1-flowered, 10-30 cm tall, 1.5-2 mm in diameter below flower, emerging from soil in nodding position. Inflorescence bracts scale-form, below soil level shorter and thicker and more densely crowded than upper bracts. Inflorescence bracts above soil level thin, ± erect, ovate to oblong, 1-2 cm long, 4-8 mm wide, sessile, usually glabrous, margin entire or erose to irregularly toothed, apex acuminate. Flowers nodding at anthesis, tubular-campanulate. Bracts not distinguishable from upper inflorescence bracts. Sepals 3-5, scalelike, lanceolate to oblong, 1-1.5 cm long, 3-5 mm wide, mostly glabrous, margin irregularly toothed, apex acute to acuminate. Petals 3-8, obovate-oblong, 1.2-2.2 cm long, 4-8 mm wide, fleshy, abaxially glabrous, adaxially usually pubescent, base saccate, margin entire, irregularly denticulate or erose in upper part, apex rounded. Stamens usually 10; filaments 1-1.5 cm, pubescent; anthers yellowish, short, appearing peltate, to 2 mm in diameter; sacs connate, opening by a distal slit. Ovary essentially glabrous, grooved along sides where capsule segments separate; placenta axile; style 2-3 mm long, shorter than ovary, thick, articulation between style and ovary conspicuous; stigma yellow-brown, ca. 4 mm in diameter, funnelform, glabrous. Nectary at base of ovary usually with 10 paired lobes directed downward between staminal bases. Capsules erect, ellipsoid-globose, 1-1.5 cm. Old spent axes remaining erect throughout season.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Indian Pipe can be found at scattered sites throughout Illinois (see Distribution Map). In Illinois, habitats are largely restricted to rich deciduous woodlands in areas with abundant humus. These woodlands are typically dominated by either maples or oaks. Indian Pipe also occurs in woodlands where coniferous trees are present. This unusual wildflower is normally found in high quality woodlands.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Boreal and temporate forests of North America. The Neotropical range is disjunct from the primary North American range, and includes Mexico to SW Colombia. In the Neotropics, it grows in moist forests of Pinus, Abies, and Quercus at elevations of 950-3400 m.

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Anhui, Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Japan, Korea, ?Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim ; North, Central, and N South America].
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Monotropa uniflora is occurring in Anhui, Gansu, Guizhou, Hubei, Jiangxi, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang of China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Sikkim, North, Central, and N South America.
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Distribution: Temperate Himalayas, Japan, Europe and N. America.
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Himalaya (Punjab to Bhutan), Assam, W. & C. China, Korea, Japan, N. & C. America.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Herbs white when fresh, fleshy, becoming black when dry, usually glabrous. Inflorescence erect, scapose, 1-flowered, 10–30 cm tall, 1.5–2 mm in diam. below flower, emerging from soil in nodding position. Inflorescence bracts scale-form, below soil level shorter and thicker and more densely crowded than upper bracts. Inflorescence bracts above soil level thin, ± erect,  ovate to oblong, 1–2 cm × 4–8 mm, sessile, usually glabrous, margin entire or erose to irregularly toothed, apex acuminate. Flowers nodding at anthesis, tubular-campanulate. Bracts not distinguishable from upper inflorescence bracts. Sepals 3–5, scalelike, lanceolate to oblong, 1–1.5 cm × 3–5 mm, mostly glabrous, margin irregularly toothed, apex acute to acuminate. Petals 3–8, obovate-oblong, 1.2–2.2 cm × 4–8 mm, fleshy, abaxially glabrous, adaxially usually pubescent, base saccate, margin entire, irregularly denticulate or erose in upper part, apex rounded. Stamens usually 10; filaments 1–1.5 cm, pubescent; anthers yellowish, short, appearing peltate, to 2 mm in diam.; sacs connate, opening by a distal slit. Ovary essentially glabrous, grooved along sides where capsule segments separate; placenta axile; style 2–3 mm, shorter than ovary, thick, articulation between style and ovary conspicuous; stigma yellow-brown, ca. 4 mm in diam., funnelform, glabrous. Nectary at base of ovary usually with 10 paired lobes directed downward between staminal bases. Capsules erect, ellipsoid-globose, 1–1.5 cm. Old spent axes remaining erect throughout season. Fl. (Aug–)Sep–Oct(–Nov), fr. Oct–Nov.
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Description

Plants 10-30 cm tall, glabrous. Leaves 8-15 mm long. Flowers soli¬tary terminal, drooping. Sepals 4, 1.5-1.7 cm long. Petals 5, c.2 cm long, ovate-oblong. Stamens 10; anthers peltate., Ovary ovoid. Capsule 5-locular
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Elevation Range

1700 m
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Diagnostic Description

Monotropa uniflora is close relative of Monotropa hypopitys, but differs from the latter in its inflorescence white (vs. pale yellow-brown), scapose, 1-flowered (vs. racemose, 2-11-flowered), style thick, shorter than ovary (vs. slender, as long as ovary), disk lobes slender, elongate (vs. stout).
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Type Information

Holotype for Monotropa uniflora f. rosea Fosberg
Catalog Number: US 2581799A
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): F. R. Fosberg
Year Collected: 1954
Locality: Shenandoah National Park, Old Rag fire road, Limberlost., Madison, Virginia, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Fosberg, F. R. 1955. Castanea. 20: 59.
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Type fragment for Monotropa brittonii Small
Catalog Number: US 1738667
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Verified from the card file of type specimens
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. K. Small
Year Collected: 1922
Locality: Florida, United States, North America
  • Type fragment: Small, J. K. 1927. J. New York Bot. Gard. 28: 7.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Indian Pipe can be found at scattered sites throughout Illinois (see Distribution Map). In Illinois, habitats are largely restricted to rich deciduous woodlands in areas with abundant humus. These woodlands are typically dominated by either maples or oaks. Indian Pipe also occurs in woodlands where coniferous trees are present. This unusual wildflower is normally found in high quality woodlands.
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Damp deciduous or mixed forests; 100–1500 m.
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Growing in damp deciduous or mixed forests; 100-1500 m.
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Information about floral-faunal relationships for this species is very limited. The flowers are cross-pollinated by long-tongued bees; such insects probably seek nectar. Bears may feed on the plants when they develop above the ground surface, or they may dig up and feed on the root mass (the latter behavior has been observed for Grizzly Bears in British Columbia). Indian Pipe is not known to be toxic. Photographic Location
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering from August to November; fruiting from October to November.
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Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

A cladistic analysis of Monotropa uniflora (Ericaceae) inferred from large ribosomal subunit (26S) rRNA gene sequences (Neyland and Hennigan, 2004). Results suggest that M. uniflora from Asia, North America, and Central America are each molecularly diverged and phylogenetically distinct.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

The chromosomal number of Monotropa uniflora is 2n = 32 (Löve and Löve, 1982).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Wikipedia

Monotropa uniflora

Monotropa uniflora, also known as the ghost plant, Indian pipe, or corpse plant, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas.[1] It was formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae, however, it has now been included within the Ericaceae. It is generally scarce or rare in occurrence.

Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. It is often associated with beech trees.[2] The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.

The plant is sometimes completely white but commonly has black flecks and a pale pink coloration.[3] Rare variants may have a deep red color.

The stems reach heights of 10–30 cm, clothed with small scale-leaves 5–10 mm long. As its scientific name suggests, and unlike the related Monotropa hypopitys (but like the closely related Monotropastrum humile), the stems bear only a single flower, 10–15 mm long with 3-8 petals. It flowers from early summer to early autumn.

Like most mycoheterotrophic plants, M. uniflora associates with a small range of fungal hosts, all of them members of Russulaceae.[4]

Photograph
M. uniflora 
Photograph
Monotropa uniflora stem detail. 
Photograph
Monotropa uniflora flowering part detail. 
Photograph
Each of ten anthers open via two curving slits. 
Photograph of flower and stem leaves.
M. uniflora displaying its common, light pink coloring. 
Photograph of flower interior.
M. uniflora displaying the rare red coloration. 
Photograph of a dense cluster of plants.
M. uniflora displaying a pink coloration. 
M. uniflora displaying a red coloration. 
Leaves are scale-like, without chlorophyll, alternating on a waxy stem. 
M. uniflora growing in numbers at Camano Island State Park

References[edit]

  1. ^ Neyland, Ray; Hennigan, Melissa K. (2004). "A Cladistic analysis of Monotropa uniflora (Ericaceae) inferred from large ribosomal subunit (26S) rRNA gene sequences". Castanea 69 (4): 265–271. doi:10.2179/0008-7475(2004)069<0265:ACAOMU>2.0.CO;2. 
  2. ^ http://www.psu.edu/dept/nkbiology/naturetrail/speciespages/indianpipe.htm
  3. ^ David Matthews "Indian Pipes, Ithaca NY"
  4. ^ Yang, S.; Pfister, D. H. (2006). "Monotropa uniflora plants of eastern Massachusetts form mycorrhizae with a diversity of russulacean fungi". Mycologia 98 (4): 535–540. doi:10.3852/mycologia.98.4.535. PMID 17139846.  edit
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Notes

Comments

A rare species, found in the Murree Hills.
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