Finger Lakes, FLX, Nature, NY, Upstate New York

Indian Pipe, Ghost Plant

Last summer, after a wet spell, I posted some pictures of colorful specimens of toadstools and other fungi, sprouting all over the local woods.

I also included this shot, of a strange non-fungus, “monotropa uniflora,”  called by various names like “Ghost Plant,” “Indian Pipe,” or “Ghost Pipe.”


I would not care to hear whatever dark and sinister tune might whisper out of these pale ghost pipes.

From a distance, it has a pale, porcelain prettiness, and the stems are a rather nice pink, but on closer inspection, the overall effect is of an unhealthy, repellent fleshiness.  But perhaps I’m just projecting, because of its vampirish lifestyle.

A lot of fascinating info on Tom Volk’s Fungus Web Page.


My first surprise, was to find out that it’s a herbaceous perennial plant, and somehow related to much more cheerful plants:

cranberries, rhododendrons, azaleas, and blueberries!

Seems like it would be a strained relationship.

That pale, creepy Uncle Fester we never discuss when the young blueberries are around.

Not only did we find it growing amidst the various fungi, but like them, it lacks chlorophyll.

A parasitic existence, living on fungi.

It’s host fungi, in turn, have a symbiotic relationship to trees, often beeches.

Professor Volk mentions a “one-way flow of carbohydrates,” which immediately brought an image of me in a pasta restaurant.

Given its somewhat creepy appearance, and parasitic nature, its not surprising to find another, creepy, nickname,

“Corpse Plant.”


I’ve only seen it a couple of times in my life, and was surprised to find it again, embedded in greenish glass, in the Corning Glass Museum!

This is an amazing glass creation by Paul Stankard, “Cloistered Tri-Level Botanical with Indian Pipe Flower and Spirits”

I’m sorry it’s not a better picture, I photographed it inside a glass case, which could have used a wash.  We know which visitors are making things smeary, we can identify their fingerprints.


But if you look closely, you can make out the spirits on the underside of this strange plant.



Here’s a link to a better image, on the museum website


Apparently Native Americans discovered a number of medicinal uses, including a root tea, used as a sedative and soporific.

I don’t experiment with such things, and in this case, doesn’t it look like, as a sleeping aid, it might just work a bit too well?









I’ve never seen the mushrooms achieve the size they have this summer. This looked like someone tossed in a big old bath sponge.







cap to show the size of these clumps




coexisting nicely





An archipelago of coral fungus







Finger Lakes, FLX, food, hiking, Ithaca, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. September. An archipelago of coral fungus







“Indian Pipes” or “Ghost Plant”




















red newt.  my friend here, and the fungus photos, taken with an iPhone 5s



A walk in the woods today, turned out to be a macrofungi field trip.  Still very damp, even mucky in places, after getting eight inches of rain in recent weeks.  All these pictures, with the exception of the second one, were taken within a few hundred feet of each other.








Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Ithaca, Nature, NY, photography, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. July. A Rose by any other name







Some towns to our west, in Cayuga County, have had flooding recently. Eight inches of rain over two weeks, and the woods are filled with fungus. I know little of wild mushrooms, so no one should rush out to eat this on my say-so, but I think this is what the old folks call “sheepshead”. You can get an idea of size from the oak leaf in the top right corner, of the first photo.  Kind of sloppy ground for walking, but also kind of neat.  So many fungus, almost glowing in the dim woods, it struck me that a coral reef was taking root.  While I was away last summer, there was a drought, and everyone reported on all the little streams that pretty much dried up, but they’re now going full tilt.












Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. July. Eight inches of rain


At the end, looking slimy and a bit the worse for wear,

the Great Puffball addresses his followers for the last time.


Finger Lakes, FLX, hiking, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York in October. A Fungus Among Us.