One-Flowered Cancerroot or Ghost Pipe, Orobanche uniflora
Orobanchaceae or Paintbrush Family

Plant in habitat

Small plant, under a foot tall. Leaves reduced to minute scales. A single flower on a long furry stalk arising from a small, fleshy vase on the ground. Flower a curved pipe with 5 flaring petals at the end, pale lavender to white (rarely deep purple). Blooms in mid to late spring, but probably not every year.

A peculiar native. It is parasitic on other plants and spends most of the year as nothing but underground roots sucking on its victim's roots. When it feels the urge to reproduce it sends up flowers. Only two have been seen in Wildwood, in the forests of the eastern slope, but it is visible only when blooming, and even then easily overlooked.

Easily identified by the shape of the flower and the lack of any obvious leaves.

Plant from side Flower, face view Flower face
  Base of stem  

Flora & Fauna Home

Wildwood Home