Scientific name: Monotropa uniflora
Other Common Names: Indian Pipe, Corspe Plant, Ice Plant, Fairy Smoke
The ghost plant is aptly named for its ghostly white appearance. The flowers are white because it does not contain any chlorophyll. It does not need sunlight for its development. Rather, the ghost plant is a parasitic plant; it gets its energy from the fungi from nearby trees. Adding to the eeriness and spookiness of the plant, the ghost plant lives in dark, shady environments. They can be found growing in the deepest and darkest forests.
Despite its lack of branches and leaves, the ghost plant is not a fungus. It’s a herbaceous perennial plant that can reach a height of 4-10 inches. The pipe-shaped plant needs rich, fertile soil, especially with decaying matter, for it to thrive. It is often found near dead tree stumps.
Besides the characteristic white colouring, the waxy flowers can also be identified by the black flecks commonly found around the petals. The droopy flowers can have anywhere from 3 to 8 petals. The stems are 10-30cm in height and can only bear a single flower at a time. The flowers bloom from early summer to early autumn.
The ghost plant is native to temperate areas in Asia, North America and northern South America. And as much as you may want to pick one of these flowers, it’s highly recommended that you leave them alone. The plants are fragile and will turn black and die once picked. Besides, these plants are considered rare. Leave them alone and give other people a chance to see them.
Fun Flower Facts about the Ghost Plant
- Native Americans used the sap to treat eye infections
- some say, when cooked, the plant is edible and taste a bit like asparagus
- once the flowers are pollinated, they turn upright and the plants turn brown