Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
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Indian Pipe is an Adirondack wildflower with a thick, translucent stem ending in a white nodding flower. It grows about ten inches tall. A few plants may be a pale salmon pink. After flowering, the stem becomes upright and the flower is replaced by a seed capsule; the whole plant becomes dark brown or black. Indian Pipe is unable to synthesize its own food due to a lack of chlorophyll. The plant derives its nourishment from decayed organic material through a fungal relationship associated with the roots.
The plant reportedly is edible, tasteless when raw, but with a taste like asparagus when cooked. The plant has been used by some native North American Indian tribes for medicinal purposes. Cherokee tribes, for instance, reportedly used the pulverized root as an anticonvulsive, while the Mohegans used an infusion of the root or leaves as an analgesic.
Indian Pipe grows in woodland humus, in deeply shaded locations, from Northwestern California to Alaska; east across the northern part of the western and most of the eastern United States.
Indian Pipe may be found on many of the trails at the Paul Smiths VIC. It usually begins blooming in July at the VIC.
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- United States Department of Agriculture. Plants Database.
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Wildflowers of the Adirondacks (EarthWords, 2000), pp.
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