INDIAN PIPE PLANT OR GHOST PLANT- HEALTH BENEFITS AND HOW TO USE IT


INDIAN PIPE PLANT, GHOST PLANT, CORPSE PLANT, MONOTROPA UNIFLORA
This unusual plant has no chlorophyll, so is not green. It therefore cannot make its own food, and is a parasite having a relationship with a fungus and a tree. It takes nutrients from both and so is found under American beech and pines along with types of mushrooms which include the Russula and Lactarius mushrooms. Its roots tap into the mycelia (thread-like roots of the mushroom) and so take nutrients from it. 
The mushroom takes its nutrient from the tree which also takes nutrients from the mushroom. In other words, Monotropa uniflora is a parasite, or Mycorrhizal plant. It lives where there is decaying organic matter and can often be found close to tree stumps.
   It is native to North America and the Himalayas, Japan and parts of temperate Europe. Despite its appearance it is not a fungus. Its flowers are white, but in rare cases can be pink. Only one flower grows on each stem, and these have no fragrance, although they do have nectar which bees collect, so pollinating the plants. They flower for about a week and then die, turning black as they do so, hence the name Corpse Plant. They are very tender and succulent, but when picked will melt away and dissolve. If you pick it then it will also turn black.
   The flower is shaped like a pipe bowl and so it got its name, the Indian pipe plant, although it is also known as the Dutchman’s pipe. It looks like a calumet, the Native Americans’ pipe of peace. They used it for eye problems and pounded the roots and mixed them with water for eye lotion. White doctors used this remedy, but used rose water to mix the pounded roots with. 
You should gather the roots between September and October and dry them carefully then pound them to a powder which should be stored in airtight containers.
   The Indian Pipe Plant has been used by the Native Americans for various ailments, as a diaphoretic to promote sweat in fevers, a nerve tonic for restlessness and nervous disorders, as a sedative (it has much the same effect as opium but without the narcotic-induced dreams or hallucinations), and as a way of stopping epileptic fits. It is said to be extremely good at doing this which is why one of its names is Fit-Plant. 
The juice of the plant has been used in injections for gonorrhea and is said to be efficacious in treating inflammation and ulceration of the bladder in the form of a douche when mixed with rose water. The flowers can be chewed to relieve toothache, and a tisane can be made with the plant to help with colds and flu. You can also crush the plant on corns and bunions to ease inflammation and to eventually get rid of them.
   However, first of all you have to find this shy woodland plant, as it is even more difficult to find than the violet.


61 comments:

  1. I'm amazed that you think these plants have no fragrance. The only way I've ever found them is by first detecting their strikingly beautiful aroma. Maybe the species we have here in Northwest Louisiana pine forests is different from the one you are familiar with.

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    1. I've read elsewhere that they are fragrant in the earlier flowering period, which is from about February to April, and then are odorless around September. I'm not sure if the dates are correct, because my fiance & I found them over the latter parts of the summer, in North Carolina & Virginia. Also, they didn't turn black right after they were picked. We refrigerated them, & they only turned a grayish color. They didn't dissolve either...we squeezed the juice out of them to use for warts, & cut them up & dried them to smoke. Maybe it differs depending on the environment, though.

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    2. I was thinking the same thing.

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    3. I am in Central Arkansas and the flowers smell like expensive perfume. Amazing! I wonder if it depends on where they're growing.

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    4. I could see that as your hot humid climate would need a plant like this to generate an aroma that could be found by bees or other insects finding it in a much more lush environs , more competition more need to stand out! Evolution baby !!!! Love brudda

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    5. Agreed they do have pleasant smell. But perhaps some cannot smell it just as some cannot taste / smell characteristic identifies noted for certain fungi.
      Just found both white and a very few pink pipes in a park 9/12/17 in MD

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  2. how do you take it for a tooth ache just pop it in your mouth and chew or mix it with anything?

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  3. I'm holding one in my hand right now... the flower almost smells like peanut butter.

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  4. I live in Alberta just a few minutes West of Edmonton. We have lots of this plant growing on our acreage...must have just the right conditions.

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    1. Any chance I could get one from you?

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    2. e-mail me if you would be so inclined. thank you. project_eden@outlook.com

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  5. Here in WI I've never noticed any scent to them...I had kind of hoped that such an unusual wildflower would have a scent.

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    1. if you break it & rub on your skin it smells wonderful

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  6. I was amazed to find these on my hillside in southwest Wisconsin! I have lived here for many years and have never come across them. The variety I found does not have a scent and are white. Learn something new every day!

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  7. I've recently found some of these on my acreage in central Arkansas. The aroma these put out is absolutely divine, so maybe the ones in the south have an aroma rather than the northern ones. My husband and I tried just a pedal of these and both our mouths went somewhat numb so I could see how they would be great for a toothache.

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  8. I just found one plant in the woodsthis morning inbrookpark Ohio metroparks.... beautiful didn't think to get down and smell it tho lol... will go back in mornin and try....

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  9. Here in Michigan, they have no scent.

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  10. My property is covered in this flower

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  11. Saw these for the first time last year. Spent a day researching them, and found out they are useful for mental illnesses. Being someone who battles depression with no medication ever working I got excited and went out the next day to find them and they were no where to be found. Then this year my landlord had made a few trails in the woods. While out walking one day I came across a group growing right in the middle of the trail. I braced some down tree branches up around it so no one stepped on it, looked over and another group right off the trail. Then another, and another. I gathered some to make a tincture (which just finished today) and ate one of the flowers. They didn't carry much of a scent, and what scent it did have was pretty earthy so I just passed it off as dirt, but man do they pack a taste. The only thing that I can compare it to is how pot smells. Idk, it's been a few years since I've smelled the stuff tho lol. But anyways, it was an odd feeling. Not a high. More of a content of being. Pain and problems were still there, but they didn't drive at me like they had before.

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  12. I just visited Pictured Rocks NL in Michigan and saw hundreds of these, they were everywhere!!

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  13. where in the wood of mn would say i can find these unsual?

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  14. Jason Christian Missouri14 October 2014 at 00:16

    Just found my first with my boys while hunting a hillside along a small creek. Will be sending a photo of them to the local newspaper. As an avid woodsman, I am happy to have finally found one after learning about them in college a few years ago.

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  15. I have found a group of these growing in the woods near my house. I have epilepsy and was wondering how to process the plants for treatment of seizures.

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  16. I have found a group of these in the woods near my house. I have epilepsy and was wondering how to process the plant for treatment of seizures.

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  17. We found this plant two years in a row in Charleston IL area It is quite a plant to find

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  18. I'm getting ready to eat a handful now..

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  19. As a little girl I used to pick these every year in the pine barons of New Jersy. She loved them and would dry some and keep them in her china cabinet until the next year. We always tried to pick them with a napkin or tissue to prevent them from melting. Never noticed a fragrance and they were white.

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  20. This structure is a miniature version of a similarly named chapel in Lucerne, gehe zum blog

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  21. Smells like vanilla slightly here.

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  22. Found some on a hike today...June!?! Near Portland, OR

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  23. Learn something new everyday! I thought it was a shroom!

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  24. Learn something new everyday! I thought these were shrooms!

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  25. I was amazed how beautiful it is because of its pure white... Then I was able to read your published info about it. I just curious, how to harvest it since I have a friend's son who is epileptic case..

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  26. I just came across this plant for the first time in my 65 years, while mowing a trail in our pine forest in northern Minnesota.

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  27. I came across this amazing little cluster of white Indian pipe mushrooms last evening while mowing a trail in the woods north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. I've never seen this plant before. I didn't notice any fragrance . But it makes a lovely picture.

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  28. Just came across a patch what an amazing creation. Awe struck by its absolute difference to anything ive ever seen

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  29. This is a rare endangered plant and you should not be digging up its roots.

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  30. Went on a canoe ride down the yellow river outside Marshfield Wi. We capsized after going over a small waterfall. I swam to shore with my dog as my canoe partner gathered the canoe and paddles. Found myself in a mushroom oasis. Just about screamed when I stumbled upon a few ghost flowers. Mine are flowering and light pink and have a lovely smell.

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  31. I have a bouquet of them in hand this moment. They have a delightful but faint aroma. They were gathered in a park in Central New York.

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  32. I found these on the weekend (had never seen them before!) while hiking near my hometown on Northern Vancouver Island. They're beautiful! I did smell one but it didn't give off fragrance that I could detect. The cluster of them was at the base of a large Douglas Fir within the litter mat. They were so surreal looking that my first thought was, "Wow, fairies must live here!". :)

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  33. I had these in my yard on Wisconsin for many years. Recently I found some in Cape Girardeau Coutt, Missouri - I had no idea that these grew that far south.

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  34. I've never noticed a fragrance from these; I had these in my yard in Wisconsin for years. Recently I found some near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, much farther south than I thought these would grow.

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  35. The ones here in NJ have a lovely floral aroma, close to the scent of a rose maybe, but more delicate. I found the BEST spot to pick them and am excitedly making an Indian pipe tincture at the moment. I just checked today though, and they are all gone for the season. Boo. It was such a short window!

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  36. they have a great scent when there pink (smells like candy)

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  37. Please do not encourage collection of wild populations of these scarce plants. They face enough threats from habitat loss and degradation of woodlands.

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  38. Found my very first one yesterday, while walking a trail in a heavily wooded area of NE Ohio. Many Eastern Hemlock Trees in this area.

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  39. We were so excited to find these on our property this last week of June, so far we have several patches of them and I was excited to locate what they were and their possible uses. We live on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state and have an abundance of old growth forest, we cleared some two years ago to let a little more sunlight through. This may have been what prompted them to grow, I have not run across them in previous years although they may have been there and just buried in the underbrush or in an area that was so dense I had not come across them previously, I do find many wonderful things including chanterelles every year. I am posting this July 4, 2017.

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  40. I was just wandering with some friends, looking for a good place to build a fort and I saw one growing under a leaf. I was happy to find something so different.

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  41. This plant is rare to find, "harvesting" it for as yet unsubstantiated claims to its "health benefits" is a pretty big dick move. There is very little science proving its efficacy in treating or managing any disease.

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  42. I actually just went for a walk in the Millcreek Ravine here in Edmonton this evening. I found some of these and photographed them and stumbled across this page trying to identify them. Can definitely confirm they grow in the Edmonton region. What a fascinating plant!

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  43. Just found a ton of this plant in Northwest Wisconsin. Found it pretty interesting to learn about it. Has anyone used this and does it work?

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  44. I live in eastern Massachusetts and my daughter just found one growing under a bush in our yard. It was white with black speckles and no scent. I thought it was a mushroom. Very interesting to find out that it is a parasitic plant. Thank you for this information. My daughter will be thrilled to learn about her discovery.

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  45. I have come across quite a few of these recently in Central Vermont I'll give them a sniff tomorrow. not sure about snacking on them.

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  46. We have alot of this growing on our property.I would like to harvest and use.but don't know how?

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  47. Make a tincture for anxiety. When I found mine this year they must have just popped. They were almost clear and looked like glass. Amazingly beautiful

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  48. I came across some in Russia, Udmurt Republic, near Yaramaska village.

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  49. Found a ton of these at Dundee Falls in Ohio yesterday and came here for more info.

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  50. Monotropa hypopitys Is the dutchman’s pipe, not this one.

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  51. Do you dry them to make a tea or can you use them fresh for it and if you have to dry them how do you do so

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