Finding Indian Pipes

The goats are busy eating acorns and don’t come in on time some days. I went out looking. The goats make such a good excuse to go out walking.

Acorn hunting for the goats takes them out of their normal haunts and up onto the hills where the oaks rule. So I went up the hills.

Following a path up the hill I scanned the ground for evidence the goats had preceded me. The ground is dry and hard, too hard for hoof prints.

Indian Pipe flower cluster

Often Indian Pipe flowers come up in a cluster like this one pushing up through loose gravel on the side of a hill.

Ahead of me six inch tall translucent white flowers stand up among the gravel bits of the path.

Fall has its asters in shades of lavender and blue, its sunflowers in yellows and trees turning various fall shades. It also has some unusual flowers in white.

Think of plants and you think of leaves, stems and flowers. Two flowers in the Ozarks are only flowers.

These strange plants grow underground living as fungi do eating decaying fallen leaves. In fall their strange flowers appear from under the leaf litter.

The colorful pinesap in orange and red does grow here but I’ve found it only a time or two. More common is the ghostly Indian Pipe.

one Indian Pipe flower

Careful looking finds other Indian Pipe flowers like this single flower among the leaf litter.

The flower emerges with the pipe bowl facing down to the ground. As the flower ages, the pipe bowl rises until it finally points straight up when the flower is old and withering.

Indian Pipes should be easy to spot because of their color. They aren’t. Somehow their color blends into the leaf litter that often mounds up along their stems.

inside an Indian Pipe flower

Even inside an Indian Pipe flower looks different.

When I go looking for Indian Pipes, I look for mounded leaves then for the flowers. They are usually on hillsides near gullies so the ground has a bit of moisture in it. Once one clump is spotted, others are often in the same area.

The goats would have trampled the delicate Indian Pipes so they didn’t go up that hill. I wandered off looking for flowers then picking pawpaws.

Evidently the goats heard me as they were waiting at the gate when I came in laden with fruit.