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Ghost Plants of American Forests

A peculiar wild flower grows in many forest throughout North America. It is a strange plant because it has no chlorophyll, the substance that gives plants their green color and is critical in the production of food for the plant through photosynthesis. It is totally white – stems scale-like leaves and flowers. It depends on insects for pollination and produces seeds just like any other wildflower.

How can such a wild flower survive without chlorophyll? The Indian Pipe is a parasitic plant. Its short roots contain a specific fungus that spreads through the leafy matter of the forest floor where it attaches to the roots of the trees the plant grows under. Sugars produced by the tree is absorbed by the fungus and carried to the roots of the Indian Pipe.

Due to is lack of color, the Indian Pipe has been called the ghost plant and corpse plant. As you can imagine, there is much native American folklore about this plant and poets have written about it, but I leave that up to you to explore this further on the internet.

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