The ghost plant

The ghost plant is basically a plant in name only and has very few characteristics we would consider plant-like. Nevertheless, it is related to the blueberry family if you can believe that. I guess it could be considered the black sheep of the family, but white is the pigmentation of shame in the plant kingdom. Monotropa uniflora gets its common name from its pure white color.

This lack of chlorophyll indicates it never has the intention of becoming photosynthetic.Found in the dark understory of wooded areas, it is the bottom feeder of bottom feeders in the parasitic plant world. It doesn’t even derive its nutrients directly from a host tree. Instead, it parasitizes a fungus. Mycorrhizal fungi engage plants in a beneficial symbiosis whereby the fungi provide nitrogen to plant roots in exchange for some of the sugars the plant can make via photosynthesis. Ghost plants steal nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi associated with tree roots. The tree probably doesn’t notice, but for a member of the plant kingdom, the ghost plant leads a shameful existence.

Commonly known as Corpse Plant, Ghost Plant, a...

Commonly known as Corpse Plant, Ghost Plant, and Indian Pipe, this plant has a huge range. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monotropa_uniflora

http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/oct2002.html

http://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/interesting/mycotrophic/monotropa_uniflora.shtml

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4 thoughts on “The ghost plant

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