A low fleshy herb from three to eight inches high, without green foliage, of a wax-like appearance, with colorless bracts in the place of leaves. Flower. - White or pinkish, single, terminal, nodding. Calyx. - Of two to four bract-like scales. Corolla. - Of four or five wedge-shaped petals. Stamens. - Eight or ten, with yellow anthers. Pistil. - One, with a disk-like, four or five-rayed stigma.
Plate XXI. Indian Pipe - M. uniflora
The effect of a cluster of these nodding, wax-like flowers in the deep woods of summer is singularly fairy-like. They spring from a ball of matted rootlets, and are parasitic, drawing their nourishment from decaying vegetable matter. In fruit the plant erects itself and loses its striking resemblance to a pipe. Its clammy touch, and its disposition to decompose and turn black when handled, has earned it the name of corpse-plant. It was used by the Indians as an eye-lotion, and is still believed by some to possess healing properties.