Wild Guide

By |
From Missouri Conservationist: August 2019

Indian Pipe | Monotropa uniflora


Not common


Height: to 8 inches


Scattered nearly statewide

Indian pipe, also called ghost plant or corpse plant, lacks chlorophyll so it’s white, not green. It is sometimes misidentified as a mushroom, but it is a perennial wildflower that blooms from August through October. The urn-shaped flowers are white, eventually turning purple and later black. Since Indian pipe is not dependent on the sun, you will find it in dark, damp places in the woods.

Ecosystem Connections

Indian pipe’s roots join with tree roots, a symbiotic relationship for both the tree and the plant. The Indian pipe receives nourishment from the tree while simultaneously expanding the tree’s absorption network.

Did You Know?

Since an Indian pipe receives energy from feeding off a tree rather than the sun, its flowers rarely survive transplanting. If you happen upon a flowering Indian pipe in the wild, take a picture. Don’t take the flower.

Discover more nature at mdc.mo.gov/field-guide

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler