You may have seen this unique plant in your wanderings and wondered about it. Indian Pipe, also called Ghost Plant, (Monotropa uniflora) is a shamanic plant that offers spiritual and medicinal properties.
Indian Pipe steals its carbon stores from a mycorrhizal fungus living in the root zone of the forest. Mycorrhizal fungi are beneficial (symbiotic) organisms that vastly expand the absorptive surface area of a tree’s root system and aid in the uptake of specific nutrients such as phosphorus. In exchange for scavenging for nutrients the tree reciprocates by providing carbohydrates for the fungus.
Germinating seedlings of Indian Pipe chemically mimic the tree’s root system causing the mycorrhizal fungi to attach to the roots of the imposter in a kind of biological identity theft. The tree sends its sugars produced in photosynthesis to the fungus mycelium which in turn passes some along to the thieving Indian pipe. This arrangement is called epiparasitism. Indian pipe is only able to feed on one group of mycorrhizal fungi, the Russula. These beneficial fungi are able to attach to a wide variety of tree species including oaks and beech. Cool, moist and shaded conditions favoring the accumulation of thick deposits of leaf litter favor the development of the mycorrhizal fungus and mark the kind of location where Indian pipe is likely to grow.
Because it can only feed on Russula, Indian Pipe is an extremely rare plant and cannot be transplanted. This plant should be harvested sparingly, only when large colonies are found, and with profound respect for the plant spirit. I cannot stress this enough.
For me however, the true gift of the Indian Pipe is what it offers spiritually and emotionally as a flower essence. Flower essences always meet the person where they are and try to correct imbalances. Indian Pipe in particular works on both the first and seventh chakras, meeting the individual at their own level. Rooted deeply into the Earth itself, ancient as the stone and trees, Indian Pipe helps ground those who can't find their way. I've found that it is a powerful ally when going through emotionally challenging situations. Used in conjunction with Valerian and Redwood, it will offer grounding and support when one is facing major upheaval and deep transformational shifts.
If one is doing dreamwork, this essence works well as a companion to Mugwort. Offering hope to those who seek truth and are willing to do the work and face their fears, Indian Pipe flower essence allows us to stand beside and bear our pain. It is a still, quiet plant, and only those who are truly ready to bear that silence will gain the full benefit of what this plant has to offer. It brings light to the dark night of the soul, guiding one back to a place of balance and peace. For those who seek to know their fears and conquer them, Indian Pipe will open the world to them. "I am the white light of The Creator in plant form." When you learn to face your fears, you can then look up, reach for the stars and be truly free.