Indian Pipes Facts
- Indian Pipes serves as the common name for an extremely unusual species of plant. This rather remarkable herbaceous species evolved to fill a very specific ecological niche.
- While the perennial plant qualifies as herbaceous, it contains absolutely no chlorophyll. This makes the amazing species one of the few true plants known to man that does not utilize chlorophyll.
- It also represents a remarkable plant that evolved as truly parasitic in nature, yet only within certain very specific conditions.
- It grows only in conjunction with certain fungi which already parasitize trees, usually beech trees.
Indian Pipes Physical Description
Due to its lack of chlorophyll, the astonishing Indian Pipes remains predominantly pure white in color. However, it will occasionally display light pink shades with small black spots.
The species tends to attain a maximum height of roughly 12 in (30 cm). Its leaves also appear few in number, and rarely exceed 0.4 in (10 mm) in length.
This rather astonishing plant produces a single downward pointed flower per stem. The fruit consists of a small capsule. What a delicate parasitic beauty.
Species: M. uniflora
Indian Pipes Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
Indian Pipes appears to only occur in temperate portions of North America, South America, and Asia. Even within these regions, the species usually occurs only in rather widely scattered, small concentrations.
Since it does not require sunlight for photosynthesis, the Indian Pipes typically grows in dark environments, such as extremely dense forests.
In fact, this also remains one of the few known flowers to grow in this manner. Since the environmental requirements are highly complex, propagation occurs with great difficulty, and the species occurs sparsely and in small numbers.