Delicate Forest Jewel

pinesap

The Domain forests are beautiful at every scale – scenic landscapes, massive boulders, majestic trees, tumbling, streams. You name it. Train your eyes to the forest floor, and there are even more beauties to discover. This week I ran across pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys, growing beside a hiking trail.

Pinesap is non-photosynthetic – not a single chloroplast in its little pink body! Instead, this plant derives nutrients from the fungi that it parasitizes. So it’s called a myco-parasite,.

Belying its ephemeral look, pinesap is a perennial.  The young flowers hang down, but they turn upward as the fruits develop. Pinesap is closely related to Indian pipe,  Monotropa uniflora, another non-photosynthetic perennial that we have here on the Domain.  The latter has only one flower per stalk and is usually glostly white in comparison to  the slight blush of color displayed by pinesap.

Both plants derive their nutrients from mycorrhizae,  the fungi that form associations with tree roots. So ultimately they are feeding off of the trees that form the canopy overhead.

Advertisements

One comment

  1. Pingback: Summer Ephemeral | Sewanee Herbarium

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: