Just when you think you’re starting to get a handle on things, nature ups and does something crazy and your life gets flipped turned upside down. Sometimes that means moving in with your rich uncle in Bel-Air, and other times you find a cool plant in the forest. This particular time it turned out to be the latter.

The plants are white, with a red tint. They don’t seem to be dead – in fact, they’re flowering!

When I got back to civilization, I did some research. It turns out to be a species called Monotropa uniflora, a species of PARASITIC PLANTS! WHAT! I’d never heard of this!

Specifically, they are what’s known as mycoheterotrophic. Myco- referring to fungi, and heterotrophic meaning they are unable to synthesize their own food, instead acquiring it from their environment (humans are heterotrophs). In this case, the environment is a few dozen different species of russsulacean fungi, with which it forms mycorrhizae.

So, since it doesn’t need to make its own food, it doesn’t have to worry about producing chlorophyll - thus the lack of green coloration!

A very cool relationship that I had no idea existed.