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.

Wings of August

With wings tattered and torn a Fritillary takes a sip of nectar on the coneflowers. Those tattered wings sure feel like a metaphor for the month that has passed.

We don’t know about you but we are looking forward to autumn this year.

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.

Orobanche uniflora

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I can’t say it better than it is stated in this NY Times article “There’s simply no way to talk about the beauty of Orobanche uniflora without raising a lot of eyebrows.”

Commonly called Naked Broomrape or sometimes Flowered Cancer Root this wonderful flower with unflattering common names was a new one to us when we came across it in meadow on a recent hike.

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It is a short leafless plant unable to photosynthsize thus gaining it’s nutrients by parasitism. Often using sedum, saxifrages and asters as a host plant. Typically growing only up to 3 inches tall we found this cluster buried deep in the grass.

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It is a beautiful little flower and very unique to say the least.

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