Today on our walk along a section of the Mountains to Sea Trail in Hillsborough, North Carolina we were lucky enough to spot Monotropa Hypopitys, commonly known as "Pinesap," sprouting up from beneath some leaf litter. This native species has a wide distribution across the United States but is a rare find so we were thrilled to catch a glimpse of some young specimens.
Whats perhaps the coolest thing about this plant? According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower plant data base, "Pinesap does not carry on photosynthesis but obtains its nourishment from fungi associated with roots, often those of oaks and pines." This means the Pinesap plant taps into the mycelial network of fungi around it in order to acquire food and nutrients to survive!
According to the US Forest Service, the Pinesap plant has become endangered in Florida and is threatened in the state of Iowa. With that said and due to its rare nature, if you see Pinesap in the wild, definitely take a moment to appreciate its beauty but make sure to not disturb the plant in its natural habitat.