Indian pipe, common name for the genus Monotropa and for the family Monotropaceae, low flowering plants of north temperate zones. They are chlorophylless saprophytes with a funguslike appearance. Each stem has scalelike leaves and, with its nodding flower, resembles a pipe. The plant's waxy white or yellowish-white color has given rise to such names as corpse plant and ghost flower. The related snow plant ( Sarcodes sanguinea ) of the Sierra Nevadas is a bright red species that shoots up and blooms as soon as the snow melts. Indian pipes, snow plants, and related saprophytes are classed by most botanists as a separate family, the Monotropaceae; by others they are included in the family Ericaceae (heath family). Both families are classified in the Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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