Montana Outdoors

July 19, 2016

An afternoon of Indian Pipes

Filed under: Wildflowers — Tags: , — montucky @ 10:40 pm

On a short hike this afternoon I encountered several dozen groups of Indian Pipes. They are not rare, but live in forested areas in deep shade and can be easily overlooked. It was unusual to see so many along a short (perhaps half a mile) piece of trail. They usually grow in groups and have many attractive poses. And so I got carried away with photos.

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Indian Pipe

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

Indian Pipes

The common name ‘Indian Pipe’ refers to the pipe-like flowering stalks. It is also called ‘Ghost Flower’ and is in a leafless, saprophytic subfamily of Monotropae. They do not have chlorophyll or green leaves and do not manufacture their own food, obtaining food instead from decaying material in the tree litter and humus. They do not depend on the sun and are usually found in the deep shade of coniferous forests. While their pretty little faces always point straight down (and therefore are very difficult to photograph), the fruit eventually points straight up!

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45 Comments »

  1. Um. I more than like this! I love this. These were my favorite things to hunt down as a young man living in Buffalo. They’re rare enough for me to always get excited about their delicate beauty! Thank you for giving me another glimpse, it’s been almost two decades.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by James Gielow — July 19, 2016 @ 11:41 pm

    • There’s something about finding them that produces am interesting kind of excitement. They are so different from most other plants and their being all white is so attractive among all of the green on the forest floor. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:33 am

      • Agreed! When I was a kid, I was convinced they were magical. I really miss the cool lush woods of my youth. This desert living is drying me out!

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by James Gielow — July 20, 2016 @ 8:48 am

        • I love these western Montana mountains, the old-growth forests and high trails. I was born here but spent many years away, most of them in the Arizona desert. I loved the desert too, but my heart was always in these mountains.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:04 am

          • I can relate! My heart will always be in the appellations. Been out here for 16 years now, but always long for my old woods.

            Montana is breathtaking though! And I love Wyoming as well. Spent some time around Black Hills and the Tetons and fell in love.

            Liked by 1 person

            Comment by James Gielow — July 21, 2016 @ 7:39 am

  2. Beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by centralohionature — July 20, 2016 @ 4:49 am

  3. Stunning. What an unusual flower. They almost remind me of toadstools.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vicki — July 20, 2016 @ 6:04 am

    • They seem to live in the same environments as toadstools. So many interesting things live in the deep shade of the forest.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:35 am

  4. Wow, how extraordinary! I love their names – ghost flower and Indian pipes. Like something that has died and is coming back to life. Excellent photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jo Woolf — July 20, 2016 @ 6:08 am

    • I like the name “Ghost flower”. They do give that feeling. “Dare to be different”.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:37 am

  5. So very unique looking! They look spongy, are they? When I say spongy, I mean kind of like a toadstool. No wonder they are so colorless living in the deepest part of the forest. Thanks for giving us a good look at them. I can honestly say I’ve never seen them before except on your blog — I think you’ve had photos of them before if I remember correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — July 20, 2016 @ 6:18 am

    • Their feel is more like that of a cactus flower. I usually run into them every year and I’m always delighted, and as with most wildflowers, I wonder what their purpose is.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:39 am

      • The Indian Pipe, ghost pipe has many healing properties. Especially as a tincture. Beautiful purple.

        Like

        Comment by Wendy Graphman — February 5, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

        • Interesting. I had read that the indigenous people used a powder as a healing aid, but I had not heard of a tincture being made.

          Like

          Comment by montucky — February 5, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

  6. They’re very interesting, not seen anything like it before. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Val — July 20, 2016 @ 7:00 am

    • I was surprised to see that they are native to most parts of North America. They seem to like the areas near the edges of old trails in otherwise undisturbed forest.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:42 am

  7. Reblogged this on Truth Troubles: Why people hate the truths' of the real world.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by oldpoet56 — July 20, 2016 @ 7:46 am

    • Thank you for the reblog! I hope that some of your followers will enjoy seeing them too!

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 20, 2016 @ 8:42 am

  8. Beautiful, delicate and very interesting. I can see why you got carried away! I can just imangine you stretched out on the ground trying to get a photo of the bowing heads! Thanks for showing this flower from top to bottom and for the information about it. hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Beth — July 20, 2016 @ 8:51 am

    • This hike was meant to be a big longer, but to me it was worth the time spent with the Indian Pipes. I have not seen them in such nembers before and couldn’t pass up the chance to photograph so many of them.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:06 am

  9. Never seen anything quite like this – ghostly beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by nexi — July 20, 2016 @ 9:12 am

    • They are seldom seen in drier valley places but fairly common in the deep shad of old growth forests. I am always excited to see them: they are so different.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:08 am

  10. Beautiful photos! These are really an unusual type of plant. The ones in these photos are still quite fresh and white.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by wordsfromanneli — July 20, 2016 @ 9:37 am

    • Luckily I got there when they were just about at their prime so they were indeed fresh and white.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:09 am

  11. It’s interesting to see the ants on them. Are there other small insects, or are those bits of dirt? It seems as though the ones in the last photo might be the freshest. They’re truly beautiful. The petals (or whatever) seem almost translucent.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by shoreacres — July 20, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

    • As with all wildflowers they have insect visitors. I liked seeing the little yellow spider on one of them. The small black spots are part of the plants, I think one of their stages of aging. They will turn black later on. It’s fascinating to see white blossoms and white stalks, all of the same texture, with no green leaves.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:12 am

  12. We had a year like that last year when Indian pipes were everywhere but it’s so dry this year that I’m seeing just a few. I’m glad they’re thriving somewhere!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — July 20, 2016 @ 3:24 pm

    • It’s getting pretty dry here now too, but still not bad in the deep shade of the canyons. We had a hot period earlier in the summer, then a long period of cool weather. Starting today we are in for a stretch of temps in the high 80’s and mid 90’s. It’s still possible to get out of the heat though in the higher elevations and in the shade of the forests.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:15 am

  13. first viewed Indian Pipes when I lived in NJ and I was 10 years old. Didn’t try to eat them? Wonder why?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kinzel, Chad — July 20, 2016 @ 6:10 pm

    • I’ve not seen anything about eating them, but the Nlaka’pmx people of British Columbia used ashes or power from them to rub on sores that wouldn’t heal.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 21, 2016 @ 7:18 am

  14. Clean ’em up a little bit, get rid of the ants and such, and they look almost good enough to eat … 🙂 I can see why you got carried away …. a very cool wildflower … love the name(s).

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Teresa Evangeline — July 22, 2016 @ 3:49 pm

    • They do look edible, don’t they. I love their contrast to the greens in which they prefer to grow. They are clearly individuals.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 24, 2016 @ 7:08 pm

  15. The Indian Pipes are beautiful!
    We moved from Virginia to Texas, so I’m seeing a lot of cactus and hot things….here in the Texas heat.
    Guess I’m still a long way from Montana!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — July 23, 2016 @ 8:10 am

    • I think I would like Texas too except for the heat, which was one of the things that eventually made the Arizona desert unlivable for me as I got older.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 24, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

  16. You have done a fine job of showing them off!
    I have quite a large patch of them growing in one section of my forest. I have been visiting them often to admire and capture their presence and growth.
    Recently some wonderful white cup mushrooms have showed up growing in their midst.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tammie — July 23, 2016 @ 9:53 am

    • I’m afraid that now they are drying up here as the low elevation temperatures rise and even the shady places dry up. It was wonderful to see so many of them though.

      Like

      Comment by montucky — July 24, 2016 @ 7:10 pm

  17. Very unusual looking, not sure I’ve ever seen any.

    Like

    Comment by Candace — July 24, 2016 @ 10:23 pm

  18. How beautiful, they almost look like they’re made of silk.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Inger — July 28, 2016 @ 10:06 am

    • They are certainly different from most plants and I think they are beautiful too. I agree with your comment about looking like they are made of silk.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — July 28, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

  19. Wow. Very exotic looking flower. Never seen one.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Sartenada — August 2, 2016 @ 12:19 am

    • They are fairly common in most of North America, but I don’t know if they grow in other places. They are clearly unique.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — August 2, 2016 @ 4:33 pm

  20. How unusual and the texture looks so soft and silky. Are they damaged easily when touched? Your shots are beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jane — August 3, 2016 @ 4:57 am


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