Tay Meadows Tidbit – Pinesap

Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys

Since we’re no longer at Kingsford Lake, I’ve had to discontinue the installment title “Today at Kingsford”. I haven’t been sure what to replace it with. I’d settled on the name “Tay Meadows” for our new location, which is, as the name implies, primarily meadow, and is located in Tay Valley Township, not far from the Tay River. “Today at Tay Meadows” sounded a little awkward, though, and when posting these things previously it wasn’t always today that the observation was made. So I went with “Tay Meadows Tidbit” to represent this recurring series of short-length posts. This will be the first one from the new home.

When I posted about Indian Pipe a couple weeks ago, I mentioned that they had a sister species, Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys. At the time, I hadn’t ever seen Pinesap, although I’d encountered Indian Pipe on rare occasion before. Well, what should I come across not a few days after making that post, but Pinesap! And not just anywhere, either. This patch is growing beside the driveway, at the edge of the pine forest that the previous owners planted there several decades ago. I happened to notice the plants one afternoon when I took Raven for a walk to the forest down the road. I guess ordinarily, when I’m just driving by, I don’t pay that much attention to the edges of the driveway.

Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys

Many of the plants are still young and not fully grown yet; even the tall ones aren’t completely unfurled. However, you can still see that each stem bears many flowers, one of the key characteristics that separates this species from Indian Pipe. Its habitat is another, as the Indian Pipe is associated strictly with deciduous tree species, while Pinesap, as the name implies, is primarily dependent on conifers.

The third feature, of course, is the colour. Indian Pipe is almost always white; the rare individual may be red or pinkish. Pinesap, on the other hand, has two forms. Those that flower early in the summer, such as the ones in these photos, are yellow, while plants that bloom later in the fall are usually red.

For more on the ecology of these two species, visit the original Indian Pipe post.

Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys

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5 responses to “Tay Meadows Tidbit – Pinesap

  1. Wow, I’ve never even heard of this one! Cool.

  2. Gotta love saprophytes! Not to nitpick, but the species name has an “h” in it, Monotropa hypopithys. FYI, there are two other, less common genera in the Monotropaceae that can be separated from Monotropa by having nodding fruits, as opposed to the erect fruits of Indian Pipe and Pinesap, which you illustrate so well in these posts.

    • It’s funny you mention that, Matt, because when I was doing some web research I noticed that the Wikipedia page said that the species name is often misspelled to include an “h” (Wikipedia doesn’t include it). I didn’t think at the time to look up what the spelling was in my printed guide (with an “h”).

      That’s interesting about the sister genera, I didn’t know there were others (though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised).

      • Seabrooke – Monotropa hypopithys L. is the currently correct nomenclature, the L. of course being Linnaeus, who referred the species to the genus Monotropa – it had previously been placed in the genus Hypopitys when the latter genus was described by Dillenius. But the Wikipedia author is correct in his assertion that Hypopitys is the historically correct orthography – Asa Gray makes this clear in a note in the American Journal of Science from 1884, in which Gray argues that Linnaeus did not intend to change the spelling, but did so accidentally. The Greek word means “under pines”, Pitys being an Oread nymph who was pursued by Pan, and who was changed into a pine tree (how exactly this happened depends on which version of the myth you refer to)! A botanical history unravels when one explores an orthographic variation in a single letter – thanks for prompting me to check it out a bit further!

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