Festival of the Trees 4 – Hoarded Trees!

pinesaps (unpollinated)

Check out the 4th Edition of the Festival of the Trees at Hoarded Ordinaries. Lorianne has included some great tree pictures, including fog- and lichen-draped pines and a wonderfully grotesque, be-burled spruce. And, as always, be sure to follow the links for another enjoyable ramble in the woods.

If you’re wondering what the above photo is doing in a post about trees, pinesaps are epiparasitic on trees.* They’re closely related to the better-known Indian pipes, but tend to be much more colorful, and bloom a couple months later here in Central Pennsylvania. After pollination, they tip their flower-cups toward the sky.

pinesaps (pollinated)

*(Update – the above post was written in extreme haste) Pinesaps derive their nutrients through the fungal symbionts of trees, which act as a nutrient bridge beween tree and flower. Botanists are divided on whether pinesaps are essentially parasitic, or whether they might give something back.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

6 Comments


  1. Wow, I never knew pinesaps were so colorful. I’ve never seen them outside of books, and since my Newcomb’s wildflower guide has black-and-white drawings, I didn’t realize they look like pink Indian pipe.

    I’m glad you liked the Festival pix: the post gave me good reason to go back & post some random images that were lying neglected in my photo archives. I love that be-burled spruce. Usually burled trees look like they’re pregant, but that one just looks deformed.

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  2. Gorgeous photos, Dave ! I’m totally captivated by the way the light comes behind that leaf in the very bottom and brings out the veins and colours, and contrasts with the red stalks. Ooh..

    The Festival of Trees is fabulous once again!

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  3. Lorianne – I gather from web sources that pinesaps can vary considerably in color, and that ones that grow earlier in the season tend to be paler. I also didn’t realize how rare they’re getting…

    marja-leena – Thanks. Like Lorianne, I was happy for the excuse to use some photos I might not have fit into a blog post otherwise.

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  4. I’ve seen many Indian pipes but never yet a pinesap, something to hope for. Nice photos! I didn’t know that the saprophytes become vertical after pollination.

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  5. Well, Indian pipes and pinesaps do; they’re closely related.

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  6. Yow! I like Indian pipes too (I grew up calling them “dead man’s pipes”), but I had always thought they were fungi themselves. The correct story is more interesting, though!

    It’s sad how few people appreciate all these odd little lifeforms poking out from the “small places” of nature….

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