Monotropa uniflora L.

Indian Pipes

Monotropa uniflora plant

Family - Monotropaceae, (Ericaceae) (Pyrolaceae)

Stems - No info. yet.

Leaves - No info. yet.

Inflorescence - No info. yet.

Flowers - No info. yet.

Monotropa uniflora plantFlower close-up.

Flowering - August - October.

Habitat - Dry upland woods, ravines, thickets, slopes, ridges.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This unique plant can be found throughout much of Missouri but is apparently absent from the west-central portion of the state. The plant grows in thick leaf litter (mulch) and is saprophytic. This is probably the easiest plant in Missouri to identify as nothing else resembles it. Another species, M. hypopithys L., has the same growth pattern but is a yellow to gold plant which turns red when fruiting. This latter species is less common in Missouri.
M. uniflora is pure white when fresh and begins to turn black upon drying. The fruits of the plant become completely erect as opposed to the flowers which nod.
Traditionally the plant was used to treat warts, inflammation, and general pains. A root tea was used to treat convulsions and epilepsy. The plant contains glycosides and is probably toxic.
Three families are listed above because the taxonomy of this group seems to change daily.

Photographs taken in Alley Spring Park, MO., 10-2-03, and in Conecuh National Forest, AL., 10-24-04.