Monotropa hypopithys L.

Monotropa hypopithys plant

Family - Monotropaceae

Stems - To +20cm tall, simple, nodding at apex, from fleshy roots, sub-succulent, yellowish, short pubescent, with slightly pungent odor when crushed or bruised.

Leaves - Alternate, reduced and scalelike, to 1.3cm long, 5mm broad, typically lance-ovate, glabrous, with erose margins.

Inflorescence - Terminal racemes of few flowers. Each flower subtended by leaflike bract. Pedicels 1-8mm long in flower, densely short pubescent. Flowers nodding or druping at first but erect later.

Flowers - Petals 4-5, 1.1cm long, 4.5mm broad at apex, pale yellowish to tan, broadest at apex, short pubescent externally and internally. Stamens 8-10 (twice as many as petals), typically included. Filaments inserted in grooves on ovary, white, glabrous, 7mm long. Anthers reddish, .4mm broad. Style 1, yellow, 2.1mm long, 1mm in diameter. Stigma capitate (flattened), 2.5mm broad. Ovary 4mm tall (long) and broad, 4-locular. Placentation axile. Sepals 4-5, erect, distinct, 8-9mm long, 2-3mm broad at apex, pale yellow to tannish, short pubescent on margins, erose at apex. Capsules erect, to 8mm long, with persistent style. Seeds many.

Monotropa hypopithys flowers

Monotropa hypopithys plantPlant in fruit.

Flowering - June - October.

Habitat - Rich to dry woods, along streams, ravines, alluvial soils.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This diminutive plant is not commonly seen. It is found in a small number of counties throughout Missouri. The plant is saprophytic on decaying vegetation and the mycelia of fungi.
The stems of the plant can be yellowish-brown to reddish (when the plant is in fruit).
Another species, M. uniflora L., is nearly white and has only one flower terminating each stem.

Photographs taken in the Ozark Scenic Riverways, Shannon County, MO., 6-23-03.


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