Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Indian Pipe, Indianpipe, Corpse Plant, Ice Plant, Death Plant, Bird's Nest
Monotropa uniflora

Family: Monotropaceae
Genus: Monotropa (mah-no-TROH-puh) (Info)
Species: uniflora (yoo-nee-FLOR-uh) (Info)

Synonym:Monotropa brittonii

11 members have or want this plant for trade.

Parasites and Hemiparasites

6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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There are a total of 30 photos.
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13 positives
11 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral orkid101 On May 9, 2011, orkid101 from West Chester, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Yikes! My house was built on a piece of ground that had been heavily wooded. I have seen these little plants come up around the trees that were left on the property. I thought they were some kind of fungus so down they went with the toadstools and mushrooms. I did not want the children and dogs to get into them. Now, I see how pretty they are when left to grow. I hope a few come up this year so I can see the flowers.

Neutral debikayo On May 9, 2011, debikayo from Park Falls, WI wrote:

I found this odd plant in the margin between the lawn and forest just last summer- in 2010. I live in zone 3! I had never seen it in that location before. I had seen it previously in a different location on our property in the summer of 2008.

Positive amygirl On May 9, 2011, amygirl from Miami, FL wrote:

I saw this neat plant many years ago in northern Minnesota.

Positive Hoagie On Mar 19, 2010, Hoagie from North Tonawanda, NY wrote:

I had just seen an information plaque on a hike in Vermont about this plant, but there were none growing at the time. Lo and behold, I go to my property in Franklinville, NY and I see one growing in the woods under the tall pine trees! I was so excited! I hope it comes up again this year and spreads!

Positive catnip_tx On Nov 7, 2009, catnip_tx from Mount Enterprise, TX wrote:

Beautiful plant growing along the edges of our pine plantation in East Texas this fall after a very wet September. Like many, we first thought this was some strange fungus.

The flowers smell slightly sweet. These are fun to photograph. Please enjoy but leave them where you find them.

Positive byrddog On May 12, 2009, byrddog from Broadway, VA wrote:

According to "National Audobon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers", this plant IS saprophytic. Regardless, it is a wonderful little wildflower and a classic example of why we should enjoy them where we find them, as they do not transplant. I know where they grow and seek them out each summer.

Neutral boron On Apr 2, 2008, boron from Beverly Hills, CA wrote:

Nitpicky details:
No one has this quite right. The plant isn't saprophytic. It can't break down organic material like a fungus. It does depend on a fungus, but it's more complicated than that. Many plants have symbiotic relationships with fungi where the fungus provide the plant with mineral nutrients from the soil and organic matter that the fungus is breaking down. The plant provides the fungus with excess sugars from photosynthesis. This plant needs mineral nutrients and sugars, since it can't photosynthesize, so it somehow "tricks" the fungus to share the sugars it obtains from another plant. So, this plant needs a fungus and a host plant in order to grow, which makes transplanting very tricky, if not impossible.

Neutral seasideshooter On Sep 12, 2007, seasideshooter from Ocean Shores, WA wrote:

I've found a small amount of Indian Pipe growing in Washington State, on the coast, in 60 or 70 year old forest. It doesn't thrive but the patch does get larger each year.

Positive go2glenn On Oct 9, 2006, go2glenn from Suwanee, GA (Zone 7a) wrote:

It was great to come across this plant while hiking near Toccoa, GA. There is some Cherokee folk lore about the origin of the Indian Pipe plant. Please do not collect. Just enjoy it in the wild. G

Neutral UUallace On Aug 7, 2006, UUallace from Cincinnati, OH wrote:

These only co-grow with Milk Mushrooms.
Genera: Lactarius and Russula
When cut these mushrooms ooze white latex.

Positive Equilibrium On Jan 28, 2006, Equilibrium wrote:

Neatest little plants. I just love finding them. I think this is a plant I'd like to add to my property some day. They lack chlorophyll and are classified as saprophytes. They depend upon decaying organic material in the soil.

Neutral gregr18 On Aug 9, 2005, gregr18 from Bridgewater, MA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Indian Pipe grows all over my property, emerging in mid-summer and lasting for several weeks. They flourish in woodland soil, rich with leaf litter. Most people unfamiliar with the plant think it is a mushroom when they first see it.

Indian Pipe has a long history as a medicinal plant. Native Americans and early European settlers both used it as a sedative and as a remedy to treat sore eyes. Modern medicine looks on the Indian Pipe with a more skeptical eye, noting that the plant contains various toxins, including several different glycosides.

Neutral kayaker On Jan 18, 2005, kayaker from Milton, VT (Zone 4a) wrote:

Info found on the Internet regarding propagation.

This is going to be an exceedingly difficult plant to propagate. The seed will need to be sown close to its host plant so one way would be to sow it in the leaf litter under established beech or coniferous trees[1]. Alternatively, you could try sowing the seed in a cold frame in a pot that already contains a potential host plant. If successful, grow the young plant on in the cold frame for a couple of years before planting it out close to an established beech or coniferous tree.

Positive Pyrola5 On Dec 20, 2004, Pyrola5 from Bradford, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant grows in the woods back of our house. I seldom see it growing in the same place from year to year. It is a very interesting plant but I enjoy it where it grows. I do not think it can be transplanted well.

Positive rcn48 On Dec 19, 2004, rcn48 from Lexington, VA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I have always loved this unique 'plant' and finally captured a shot of it this past summer. My husband and I always have a 'contest' each summer when we travel to Michigan to see who can spot it first in the woods. We are also fortunate to have a wonderful painting that my husband's grandmother painted years ago.

Neutral KDePetrillo On Aug 25, 2004, KDePetrillo from North Scituate, RI (Zone 6a) wrote:

I saw one of these just this week, on the edge of the woods that border our property. I was really fascinated by it -- had never seen anything like it! Well, at least now I know what it is!

Positive Fran99 On Aug 24, 2004, Fran99 from Spartanburg, SC wrote:

From my references, M.uniflora and the other Monotropas ( 12 genera & 30 species) are now classified as belonging to the Monotropaceae family, rather than the Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen) or Ericaceae (Heath) family . They are certainly unique and interesting plants. Great pics here!

Positive little1 On Aug 7, 2004, little1 from Lebanon, PA wrote:

Monotropa uniflora
Family Pyrolaceae

* Plant translucent, waxy, pipe-like.
* Flower nodding, white or pink, turning blackish with age.
* Leaves scale-like.
* Height: 4-10".

Natural History:
* Visible June - September.
* Habitat: Shady woods, in soil rich with decaying vegetation.
* Range: Northeastern United States.
* Native.

* Monotropa uniflora means "one flower with one turn" in Latin, referring to the hanging flower. The Indian pipe has also been called Ice-Plant, Ghost-Plant, and Corpse-Plant. Not very pleasant!

* Indian pipes are flowering plants, but they contain no chlorophyll. Without chlorophyll, they don't have to depend on sunlight to grow, and therefore thrive in shady areas.

* Well, you may ask, how are these marvelous plants nourished without chlorophyll? Indian pipes are saprophytic, which means they have a symbiotic relationship with fungi, which break down organic matter around the plant's root and provide a constant supply of nutrients.
i found this on another site while browsing hope you can benefit from this info. still searching central Pa for it.

Positive cindy63 On Jul 29, 2004, cindy63 from Worcester, MA (Zone 5b) wrote:

I first seen this last year,at the edge of my neighbors woods.I tried to transplant it into my moist,most shade garden of cobra lilys,gingers,arums,etc,with no luck.They didnt take,and I havent seen them come back yet.I will go poke around today,and check on hers again,as I hope they came back.
I love the way they grow,they appear as a mushroom,I had no idea what they were,and I learned the name from this web site!Thank you again!!!!The cluster pic that you show,is by far the most beautiful I have seen yet,thank you,great pics!
My only experience was negative on transplanting,otherwise,positive,they are beautiful and odd,My kind of garden!

Positive CatskillKarma On Jul 28, 2004, CatskillKarma from West Kill, NY wrote:

Indian pipes are very common in the Catskill Mountains of NY. They grow wild in the woods all over, but I have never seen them in a garden.

Positive MotherNature4 On Jul 27, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This unusual plant is found quite often in the Ocala National Forest in north central Florida.

Neutral kfoss81 On Aug 10, 2003, kfoss81 from Lewiston, ME (Zone 5a) wrote:

The Monotropa uniflora contains no chlorophyll and can't carry on photosynthesis, they must derive their metabolic energy in other ways. The indian pipe is a saprophyte just like most fungus, meaning this species lives on and helps to break down dead or decaying plant matter. Then the indian pipe absorbs the nutrients from the matter. The plant roots also have a symbiotic relationship with a particular species of soil fungi (pH dependant) to supplement its diet. This special relationship would make it difficult to grow these outside the natural environment in which they were found.

Neutral Maudie On Apr 24, 2003, Maudie from Harvest, AL wrote:

I have not grown this plant but found some while playing in the woods as a child. They were fasinating to me and dug some up and brought them home but they did not live long after transplanting. The photo brought back fond memories of by-gone days when my sister and I roamed the woods looking for blood root, ginger, and native ferns.

Neutral mystic On Aug 30, 2001, mystic from Ewing, KY (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is a perennial herbaceous plant,which can reach 8inches in height.The the entire plant is white or in some cases pinkish turning black or dark brown with age.There are no real leaves only scales.The flowers are white sometimes pinkish. Blooms first appear in early summer and continue into late summer. The number of flower parts may vary but there is only a single flower on each stem. The flowers droop at first later becoming erect as the fruit matures.Usually found in dry woods.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Stamford, Connecticut
Summerfield, Florida
Trenton, Florida
Williston, Florida
Toccoa, Georgia
Tucker, Georgia
Arnold, Maryland
Cumberland, Maryland
Lutherville Timonium, Maryland
Valley Lee, Maryland
Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Dracut, Massachusetts
Foxboro, Massachusetts
Norton, Massachusetts
Upton, Massachusetts
Worcester, Massachusetts
Erie, Michigan
Harrison, Michigan
Metamora, Michigan
Saint Helen, Michigan
Marshfield, Missouri
Rolla, Missouri
Salem, New Hampshire
Croton On Hudson, New York
Franklinville, New York
Saugerties, New York
Wilmington, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Jewett, Ohio
Bradford, Pennsylvania
Clearfield, Pennsylvania
Port Matilda, Pennsylvania
Tidioute, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania
Hope Valley, Rhode Island
North Scituate, Rhode Island
Conway, South Carolina
Spartanburg, South Carolina
Mount Enterprise, Texas
Broadway, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Lexington, Virginia
Portsmouth, Virginia
Richmond, Virginia
Roanoke, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia
Artondale, Washington
Ocean Shores, Washington
Seattle, Washington
Aurora, West Virginia
Madison, Wisconsin
Park Falls, Wisconsin
Pewaukee, Wisconsin

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