First, a disclaimer. Maintain your critical thinking at all times. I make no claim for the safety or positive ID of these or any other plant on my blog, Do not trust the internet, and do not trust me. QUESTION EVERYTHING!!!!!!! please be aware of the dangers of overharvesting all plants and fungi, most especially those which are difficult to cultivate. Never take more than you need/will use, respect and appreciate these plants, and commit to helping their community and protecting their home.
I have been harvesting Ghost Pipe (Monotropa Uniflora) and Black Trumpets(Craterellus cornucopioides) lately. The two don’t have any relation that I know of yet they grow near each other, both in the shady forest on rocky hilly ground, as if they were a diorama of darkness and light telling us something about the world. I enjoy foraging, wandering about, looking for patterns in the leaf litter that indicates a fruiting, nibbling wild berries and listening to the collective birdsong. I love the deep shade, the canine company, the steep foothills.
We often call unusual plants or insects “otherworldly”–as if our own world does not provide enough stunning, amazing, mysterious and bizarre miracles?! I do find that most of us could use the message to open up to the unusual, the “otherworldly”, not in the sense of “fairies”, gods or shapeshifters but merely the reality of mycelium, symbiosis, codependence, relationships, and the way that in reality there is so much more going on than most of us acknowledge.
Everything from compost to mycoremediation, beneficial bacteria to natural cycles underlying every visible and not-easily-visible living thing. It is a joy to me to know that we are living atop and amongst unknowable natural worlds.
I do eat Black Trumpets and make medicine with Ghost pipe, but there are already excellent writings about both (see links.) so I won’t waste your time with those details.
So, let’s talk about the pipe. This plant has many names, but I'm going with Ghost Pipe becasue it has a translucence that one might find "ghostly"–it's seriously weird. One of few plants with no clorophyll, it is a mycotrophic wildflower in the Heath family—yes, same family as blueberries!–and lives in intimate relationship with the forest floor.
Ghost pipe is considered a plant with medicinal properties. Great information about use can be read here:
We humans can get so easily stuck in our own patterns, loops, processes and ways of looking at the world. We can seek out, disrupt, and welcome the unusual to break us out of that stuckness. But these disruptions are just catalysts, the curiousity must be there, underlying, waiting to be activated like mycelium waiting for rain. It’s there, We must be willing to allow it in.