Thursday, January 31, 2008

Indian Pipes

My botanical drawing of these mystical little Indian pipes shows them rising in ghostly cluster from a shadowed forest floor.

Indian pipes are sometimes mistaken for fungi but they are a true flowering plant. Yet their leaves lack chlorophyll and present as scales along the stems.

Therefore they are unable to manufacture food, so their tangly masses of rootlets live quite intimately with subterranean fungi. Both then take their sustenance from decaying organic matter and from living tree roots.

Blooming in summer, Indian pipes' single nodding cup-shaped flowers do resemble small clay pipes atop their waxy stems.

And who can say that fairies don't play tunes upon these lovely creations of nature-- or puff a puff or two?

Indian pipes by jude cowell (c) 2008 Use only by express permission of artist.

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