Monday, August 2, 2010

Myco-heterotrophs in the Forest

Posted by Kirk
There is such a crop of Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora) in the forest this year I just had to make a video. A single patch I found contains over four hundred flowers and there are patches like this all over the woods. Enjoy.



Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

That's neat! I've always looked for them in our woods but never found any. Do they grow only in certain forest types? Ours is a mix of aspen, birch, maple, spruce and ash.

Kirk said...

Hey Lynne,

From what I can gather they can be found in most states. Here's a map.

They exist because of a pretty complex relationship. They feed off of fungus which is in turn feeding off of tree roots. They are often associated with dead or dying trees. I'm guessing we have such a bumper crop because we had a tornado go through two years ago and it killed or damaged a lot of trees. There are likely a lot of rotting tree roots in the forest floor for the fungus to feed on. With lots of fungus we get the opportunity for Indian Pipe. These are growing under Red Maple, White and Red Oak.

Jeanne LaMoore said...

We saw a patch while in the BWCA and wondered what they were. Thanks for informing!