Wild Florida Photo
Nature Photography by Paul Rebmann
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Despite the ghostly appearance, this actually is a plant. Since Indian pipe lacks chlorophyll it cannot photosynthesize. A shared fungal-root association with nearby trees provides nutrients. The fungus obtains nutrients from the tree roots, providing the tree with minerals in the process. Monotropa uniflora pulls some of these sugars from the fungus.
The plant is white, turning black with age. A single flower curves over at the top of each stem, turning upright at maturity.
The other member of this genus, M. hypopithys or pinesap, grows taller, has multiple flowers and is usually red or yellow.