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Birthday Presents


About 1/3 of our acre is left natural. In the woods at the base of a rotted tree stump I found these plants. As ghostly as they look, they need the moist duskiness of the woods to grow. These plants carry many names…Ghost plant, Indian Pipes, Corpse Plant…all of them are very descriptive!

It was on my 59th birthday that Gaia gave me the wonderful gift of sighting these rare beauties. I had learned about these very rare plants back when I was 12 years old and at Girl Scout Camp…. I never really expected to see them. You can imagine my surprise when I found these in my backyard!

This plant lacks chlorophyll. It gains its nutrients from a relationship with a fungus and with a tree. It either takes what it needs from a decaying stump (as mine is) or from a fungus that has attached itself to a tree. Many fungi and trees have this type of relationship — it’s called a “mycorrhizal relationship,” but the introduction of another plant into the chain is unusual.

In the past this plant was eaten, it reportedly tastes like asparagus when cooked, or tasteless when raw. The Cherokee Indians of North America pulverized the root and gave it for the treatment of epilepsy and convulsions. When it is made into a tincture the color of the tincture is a dark blue, and the smell is like pickling vinegar!

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Never seen or heard of one of these plants before.

5 Sep, 2009


Just catching up with your blogs - which are fascinating although I have to confess I don't think I would have the courage to try out your "asparagus" tasting plant. Have you tried it yourself yet?

7 Sep, 2009



No I haven't tried it, and since it is so rare a plant I would recommend resisting the temptation..:D There are enough wild plants that are not rare or endangered that are edible, we should be able to just admire these rarer specimens, no matter how hungry we get!

7 Sep, 2009


Quite agree...I am wary enough of wild fungi at the best of times anyway..but adore edible mushrooms...used to grow them in fact. Now I just buy organically grown ones!
My botany lessons are but a vague memory nowadays but I did find these symbiotic relationships fascinating - but unless one takes time to dig a bit - or read up - we remain happily ignorant of what is going on under our feet!!

8 Sep, 2009


This one is NOT a wild fungus...even though it definitly looks like it. It is actually related to the azaleas, laurels, rhododendrons, and the bonny heather in the heath family!

9 Sep, 2009


MEA CULPA !! Obviously I can't see for looking!!! Of course you said it was a plant...and what a pedigree too....fancy it being of the Ericaceae family too - of the blueberry lot fascinating! Needless to say - I have just been Googling these Ghost plants ...Monotropa I am retired and love having something unusual to "research" in my wee way! And this is certainly IS unusual ...and I thank you for setting me off on this path of have added to the enjoyment of my coffee time today as I read your blog again too. ...not much wonder you were so delighted by your "birthday present"

9 Sep, 2009


In my own research I just recently learned that all the exact right circumstances had to work together! Not only the rotting tree trunk, not only the dark, moist woodlands, or even having the seeds in the right place. These plants do not bloom yearly...they need an intense period of rain followed by dry with some heat! Wow I had everything turn up right at the same time! are quite welcome for the lead in....I love nothing more than sharing what I have learned with someone who also enjoys it! Thank You for letting me know it was of value to you.

10 Sep, 2009


Eerie looking and you can see why it get's it's name but fascinating facts on it.

You must have been chuffed to have finally seen it AND in your own yard!!

16 Nov, 2009

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