Sunday, August 25, 2019

Weird Wild Neighbors: Indian pipe

Erin and I hiked to the top of Gillespie Point this afternoon and what a fantastic view it was! But that's not all; we also found a weird wild neighbor near the top of the mountain, the Indian Pipe flower. The weirdness of this particular species is best known through an understanding of its biology, in particular how it gets its energy.

"The Indian Pipes are unusual among flowering plants in that they contain no chorophyll. They do not manufacture their own food by photosynthesis, depending instead on small wood-rotting fungi in the soil to free nutrients for their use." (North American Wildlife: Wildflowers. Reader's Digest Association, Inc; Pleasantville, NY, 1998. Page 120)

Essentially the Indian Pipe is a flower that behaves like a mushroom part of the time. I say part of the time because, like other flowers the Indian Pipe contains reproductive parts that are typical of a flower, but when it comes to where it gets its energy the Indian Pipe is divergent from other flowers because like mushrooms the Indian pipe gets its energy from decaying organic matter.

A flower that behaves like a mushroom. Now I find that delightfully weird!

As we seek to live into community with all that has life, the Indian Pipe is one among many fascinatingly beautiful weird wild neighbors worthy of our respect and appreciation.





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