Indian Pipe
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Indian Pipe
ative Photo: Krishan Lal
Common name: Indian Pipe, Ghost Flower, Ghost Flower • Mizo: Phungkuaite
Botanical name: Monotropa uniflora    Family: Ericaceae (Blueberry family)

Indian Pipe, also called Ghost Flower, is a very curious plant. It has no green part, and is generally white. Indian Pipe, is a herbaceous perennial plant native to temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas. It is generally scarce or rare in occurrence. Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic. It ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult. They also cannot be used as cut flowers, since they brown and collapse in a few hours. The plant is sometimes completely white but commonly has black flecks and a pale pink coloration. The stems reach heights of 10-30 cm, clothed with small scale-leaves 5-10 mm long. As its species name monoflora suggests, the stems bear only a single flower, 10-15 mm long with 3-8 petals. It flowers from early summer to early autumn.

Identification credit: Amit Kotia Photographed in Sirmaur Distt, Himachal Pradesh.

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