I came upon some Pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa) on our walk through the West Twin Old Growth area. Pinesap is a saprophyte, and if you remember your biology, a sprophyte is a plant that doesn’t have chlorophyll, so can’t make its own food from the sunlight, but instead gets its food from growing on some dead plant. So they are quite comfortable growing in the low light floor of a cedar forest. “Hypopitys” in its scientific name is from the Greek hypo (beneath) and pitys (tree).
It was given the name Pinesap because it is often found growing beneath pine trees. As you can tell from the moss they are growing in, these examples are quite small, only about 3 inches (8 cm) in height. The Pinesap above was unusually colorful compared to the other ones I saw, probably because it had just come out of the ground and was still compact, and hadn’t started stretching out yet.
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