Indian Pipe

Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), a perennial plant, is the only native species of genus Monotropa found in Canada.


Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), a perennial plant, is the only native species of genus Monotropa, one of 8 genera of the wintergreen family (Pyrolaceae) found in Canada. The genus is sometimes raised to family level (Monotropaceae), or wintergreens may be included in the heath family (Ericaceae). Indian pipe grows transcontinentally in shaded woodlands but is hard to find, not always appearing in the same place each year. Lacking chlorophyll, it cannot manufacture its own food and lives on partially decayed vegetation in soil, with the aid of a fungus (see Mycorrhizae). The plant is 10-20 cm tall. The nodding, one-flowered stalks are often clustered. The flower and stalk vaguely resemble a smoker's pipe, hence the common name. It is also called corpse plant because of its shining, translucent white colour. If the plant is touched, the spot turns black. Indian pipe was used by the Blackfoot to heal wounds, and by various groups to treat convulsions and epileptic seizures.


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