Nature Photo Mystery Revealed: Indian Pipe

A co-worker of mine, Sue, came across this while walking through trails this weekend 12km from Bon Echo Provincial Park. Not sure what it was, she quickly snapped a photo and brought it into the office. So what is it?

Says staff naturalist Ted Cheskey:

The plant in Sue’s photo is called Indian Pipe. The white colour betrays the fact that this is a plant – but a strange one, in that it does not produce chlorophyll – the green pigment used in photosynthesis that normally is used to place an organism in the plant kingdom. In other words, this is an exceptional plant.
Not being able to photosynthesize, it gets its energy from other plants, by tapping into them with its rootlets. It is not alone in being an “exceptional” plant. Other plants that derive their nourishment from fungus or other plants include Pinesap, Beechdrops, One-flowered Cancerroot, and Squawroot.