Woodland Pinedrops: Pterospora andromedea

Earlier this summer we ran across a peculiar plant making its way up through the earth in the forest. A strange striped asparagus? No Woodland Pinedrops: Pterospora andromeda.

According to Wikipedia “Like all members of the Monotriopoidiae , Pterospora andromedea lacks chlorophyll (trace amounts have been identified, but not enough to provide energy for the plant or to color it. Plants exist for most of their life as a mass of brittle, but fleshy, roots. They live in a parasitic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, in which plants derive all their carbon from their associated fungus, but the relationship is not yet well understood.”

This makes it similar to several of the orchids we have encountered along the trail.

Now that summer has passed and fall is in the air the plant looks like this.

Somewhat like a small tree full of small pumpkins decorating the autumn forest.

Still Summer

Alas, while most of the summers wildflowers have come and gone there is still a bit of color to be found. The Dotted Gayfeather have done well this year and are in full bloom in the fields and along the roadside near our home and it looks like other besides ourselves are enjoying them as a little Skipper Butterfly enjoys a late summers sip of nectar.

Forest Bathing

Some say there is healing power in a long forest experience, a practice called shirn-yoku in Japan. There certainly are days when you leave a nice walk in the woods with a feeling you can equate with healing. It need not be walking as a long sit on that quiet bench or rock also seems to do the trick.

Although scientific evidence is currently sparse as to the specific mechanism by which a forest walk promotes positive health we can all agree it does no harm at all.

On some days it is what we see and others what we smell. Many days it is what we do not see or smell as we walk away from the hustle and bustle and into the woods.

Whatever it is about a forest bath I sure wish Doctors would prescribe it more.