All About Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
In this article, you’ll learn what the data says about ghost pipe ( Monotropa uniflora ). Is it endangered? Edible? Poisonous? Find out the answers to all of your questions below!
Around June 8 every year, we start finding Ghost Pipe (also called Indian Pipe), mainly around our creek area. This year so far, we’ve had a nice amount of rain and have counted many dozens of clusters of this unique flower rising from the leaves. During dry years, we’ll see less. While the bulk of the flowers bloom in June, we still find sporadic random clumps all the way through September. (Here in zone 7a USA.)
We’ve also seen a lot of confusion, misinformation, and even a few arguments about ghost pipe while navigating foraging groups, so we decided to organize all of the available data and see if we can clear up some of the confusion out there.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the questions and known facts!
Is Ghost Pipe a Mushroom? Or a Flower?
Even though it looks kind of like a mushroom, ghost pipe is a woodland flower.
However, mushrooms and ghost pipe have a connection – because ghost pipe depends on a mushroom network to survive!
Ghost pipe is pale white and doesn’t contain chlorophyll, that green substance that most plants use to turn sunshine into food.
So how does it get its food?
It taps into a mutual relationship that the roots of trees like oak and beech have with certain kinds of fungi (in the Russulaceae family.) The trees and fungi help each other out and they live together in harmony.
Ghost pipe attaches itself to the fungi and gets indirect nutrition from the tree that way. From what we can tell, the interloper doesn’t seem to cause problems for the tree or fungi. Pretty clever!
Can You Grow Ghost Pipe at Home?
Some say it’s super difficult, if not impossible, to cultivate ghost pipe at home. (If you’ve done it though, let us know – a lot of people would be interested, including us!)
You need to have the right tree with the right fungal network in place or the seed won’t germinate, so it’s not just a matter of just sticking some seeds in the ground and waiting for them to grow.
If you see seeds for sale, it’s normally a scam. There is a study where scientists used some complicated finagling to germinate monotropa uniflora and one of them developed a nest-like root cluster after one year in a lab, but that’s pretty far out of the reach of us everyday gardeners!
Is Ghost Pipe on the United Plant Savers Species at Risk List?
No, but sort of.
If you look at the full list of at-risk plants at the United Plant Savers website , you won’t spot ghost pipe, Indian pipe, or monotropa uniflora .
However, in their printable chart version , “Indian Pipe, Monotropa uniflora ” is listed as “Requested to Score” along with chaga, wild cherry, solomon’s seal, yaupon, and wild geranium. So perhaps we’ll see it on there one day.
Is Ghost Pipe Endangered?
Yes, no, and maybe. It depends on where you live and whether your state has done the work to study the plant’s status.
States Where It’s At Risk
Here are the states in the US that have Ghost Pipe ( Monotropa uniflora ) listed as being in trouble:
- Alaska – listed as S1 (S1 = critical imperilment within the state)
- California – listed as 2B.2 (“2B” = Plants rare, threatened, or endangered in California but common elsewhere. “.2” = Moderately threatened in California — 20-80% of occurrences threatened / moderate degree and immediacy of threat.)
- Florida – listed as S3 (S3 = vulnerable) ( Monotropa hypopithys listed as S1, but do not see M. uniflora listed on FL Natural Areas Inventory list . )
- Nebraska – listed as S1 (critical imperilment within the state)
- North Dakota – listed as S3 (vulnerable)
- Oklahoma – listed as S1 (critical imperilment within the state) ( listed as S2 – imperiled – on the OK Natural Heritage site)
- South Dakota – listed as S1 (critical imperilment within the state)
RarePlants.org has a helpful glossary for when you’re trying to figure out the conservation status of a plant.
States Where It’s Considered Secure:
Then there are a few states that list monotropa uniflora as secure (S5) :
- West Virginia
And it’s “apparently secure” (S4) in Montana and Iowa .
As you can see by THIS map at the Nature Serve Explorer many states have unknown statuses. That doesn’t mean that ghost pipe is secure, or that it is at risk in those states, it just means that there’s not enough data for us to know.
( Side note : Monotropa uniflora is also found outside of North America in places such as Nepal, Japan, Taiwan, and parts of Eastern Asia, and Colombia, Mexico, and parts of Central America.)
Video: Ghost Pipe Slideshow
Here’s a slideshow highlighting ghost pipe. ( Sometimes an ad plays first, but the video will start right after. The video player won’t show up if you have an adblocker. )
From what we do know about the plant:
- It has highly specialized growing conditions.
- You cannot grow it from seed at home or commercially.
- The deep rich forests that it depends on for survival are in decline due to strip logging, invasive plant infestations, and human development.
- There’s a risk it could become a trendy herb which could devastate existing populations.
Many people feel that ghost pipe is at the very least a plant that’s in a vulnerable position in many places.
Can You Eat Ghost Pipe?
Ghost pipe isn’t considered to be a good edible. There are reports of a few people eating some, but there are almost as many reports of people feeling ill or strange after doing so. (We aren’t brave enough to try it, so can’t report on the taste!) There are no found reported deaths or hospitalizations from eating ghost pipe, but it’s not recommended.
Besides the risk-to-your-health factor, the plant is way too special for trailside munching, especially when there are other better choices out there. However, ghost pipe can be made into a tincture and is used in small doses for very specific cases in herbal medicine. (More on that below.)
Is Ghost Pipe Poisonous?
This topic comes up in foraging groups A LOT! Let’s break down what the terms mean and what the sources say about ghost pipe containing poisons.
Glycosides, Grayanotoxin, and Andromedotoxin
Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants & Herbs lists some Native American uses for “Indian-Pipe” ( Monotropa uniflora ) then adds: “Safety undetermined; possibly toxic – contains several glycosides”.
What are Glycosides?
Oxford’s English Dictionary describes them as: “a compound formed from a simple sugar and another compound by replacement of a hydroxyl group in the sugar molecule. Many drugs and poisons derived from plants are glycosides.” (Examples of glycosides include steviol glycoside – a harmless natural sweetener made from stevia plant, or the cardiac glycosides in foxglove flowers which can be deadly in some cases.)
What about Grayanotoxins and Andromedotoxins?
Grayanotoxins are neurotoxins found in plants like rhododendron and mountain laurel. Over 25 forms of grayanotoxins have been found in rhododendrons, some more toxic than others, making some plants more toxic than others. Grayanotoxin I is a glycoside toxin; also called andromedotoxin or rhodotoxin.
The information about ghost pipe containing grayanotoxin is based on a single source from 1889. (Yes 1889 , not 1989!)
King’s American Dispensatory (written in 1898) says: “A. J. M. Lasché (Pharm. Rundschau, 1889, p. 208) has found in this plant a crystallizable poisonous principle, which also occurs in several other ericaceous plants; it is named andromedotoxin (C31H51O10).”
Digging further, we found Lasché’s full text in Pharmazeutische Rundschau. Volume 7, 1889. (You can read it too on Archive.org .) His experiments showed that Monotropa uniflora contains andromedotoxin. To date, no modern study can be found as a follow-up, so that single source is all the data we have to go on.
Should You Forage or Pick Ghost Pipe?
Most of the time, the answer is no – you don’t really need to pick ghost pipe flowers !
If you live in a state where ghost pipe is listed as endangered, threatened, or at risk (see above) – this is an easy decision. Take a photo, touch nothing (unless you’re clearing an invasive such as garlic mustard that’s about to choke out the plants in the area), and carefully move on.
If you’re someone who truly needs this strong medicine and lives in an area where it’s considered secure, keep reading.
Before you gather Ghost Pipe, ask yourself these questions:
Why do you want to gather ghost pipe.
Stop and think why you want to collect it. Do you truly feel that the plant will benefit you? Are you really going to use it, if you make a tincture, or will it just sit on a shelf? Are you scared of any potential toxicity?
Ghost pipe is strong and used in rather extreme circumstances – unrelenting pain or anxiety attacks that can’t be managed by other herbs.
Don’t pick ghost pipe unless you have an actual plan or need for its use !
What does the plant population look like?
Are there only a few plant clusters in the area? Less than 9 or 10? If so, take a photo, move on, and don’t disturb.
If there are multiple separate and large plant clusters (this doesn’t mean ten flowers growing right next to each other; whole groups of flowers should be separated by several feet), check them closely without touching. Sometimes you’ll find that a stem or flower has been freshly knocked over by a passing creature, or perhaps you yourself accidentally trampled one before noticing.
Any freshly broken or trampled pieces can be collected as long as they haven’t turned black.
If the plant clusters are large enough, and you’re in a place where the population is secure, they may be able to support you taking a stem or two from the center of a couple of the largest clusters. (Three or four flowers/stems makes plenty of tincture.)
No one needs to collect a whole jar or even 1/4 of a jar of ghost pipe flowers. Just 3 or 4 flowers with stems will make a powerful tincture.
Collect the fresher flowers that are looking downward. Once the flowers turn up to face the sky, it’s considered too late to collect for tincture. At that point the flower has been pollinated (most often by bumblebees) and has made a seed pod containing thousands of tiny dust like seeds that will be sent out into the wind, hoping for the perfect spot to land and grow.
* DON’T PULL UP THE ROOTS!
Ghost pipe is a perennial. If you pull up the roots, it won’t come back next year!
Ghost Pipe Lookalike
Before harvesting, make sure you’re not picking ghost pipe’s look alike: Pinesap ( Monotropa hypopitys ).
Pinesap starts off creamy white color, and can develop shades of red. Below is a photo of pinesap – you can tell the two plants apart because ghost pipe has one flower at the top of each stem, while pinesap has several flowers clustered together at the top of each stem.
What is Ghost Pipe Tincture Used For?
The tincture is used in small doses for those experiencing high levels of pain or anxiety attacks.
Examples of people who use Ghost Pipe are those who are battling cancer, or have unrelenting high levels of pain in spite of trying other herbs/medications/therapies, or someone who can’t function in life because of continual severe anxiety attacks.
If you have a standard sore back and muscles from working in the garden or exercising too hard – try a mullein root tincture and a pain salve instead.
You don’t need ghost pipe tincture for everyday common pains. It’s not for pregnant or nursing women, or children.
How Do You Make Ghost Pipe Tincture?
If you truly feel you have a need for the tincture and will put it to good use: Place three or four lightly rinsed ghost pipe flowers/stems (you do not need roots) in a half-pint jar. Cover with 2 to 3 ounces of 100 proof vodka – make sure all the flower parts are covered, adding more if needed. Use a pair of scissors to chop up the flowers/stems while they’re under the vodka. Put a lid on the jar, label, and tuck it away for about 4 weeks. The tincture will turn a beautiful shade of purple. Strain.
Shelf life of this tincture is 2 to 3+ years. It’s normal to lose the purple color over time and is still fine to use at that point. (Each 1 ounce = about 600 drops.)
How Do You Use Ghost Pipe Tincture?
Starting dose is usually 3 drops. Those with light body frames may find that one drop is plenty. Put 1 to 3 drops in a cup then add a little water. Drink.
Don’t use before driving, operating machinery, or going outside your house because it can cause sleepiness. It kicks in for us about 20 minutes after taking. We find it calming and relaxing, but it is a slightly strange feeling, like you’re “zooming” away from your pain.
Use at your own risk of not knowing how you’ll personally react, as the tincture is very powerful medicine and has not been well studied by modern researchers. (One of our small-framed adult family members developed nausea and an earache and headache after taking 1 drop of ghost pipe – so it doesn’t work well for everyone!)
References & Further Reading
Botanical Gazette . April 1878. Volume 3, Number 4; pp. 37 – 38. A.H. Young reports on a reaction a young woman had when some of the plant juice of monotropa uniflora got on her lips.
Botanical Gazette . June 1878. Volume 3, Number 6; pp. 53 – 54. Richard E. Kunze writes a reply detailing his medicinal uses of monotropa uniflora over 23 years, with no adverse affects and wonders if the young woman from A.H. Young’s report had a reaction to Rhus toxicodendron (poison oak) instead.
Botanical Gazette . September 1878. Volume 3, Number 9; pp. 79 – 79. A.H. Young asserts he still believes the young woman’s reaction was from monotropa uniflora .
California Department of Fish & Wildlife. SPECIAL VASCULAR PLANTS, BRYOPHYTES, AND LICHENS LIST . April, 2022.
California Native Plant Society Rare Plant Inventory. Monotropa uniflora. https://rareplants.cnps.org/Plants/Details/646
Donahue, Sean. Ghost Pipe: A Little Known Nervine . American Herbalist Guild.
Felter, Harvey Wickes and John Uri Lloyd. King’s American Dispensatory , 1898.
Figura, Tomáš, et al. In vitro axenic germination and cultivation of mixotrophic Pyroloideae (Ericaceae) and their post-germination ontogenetic development . Annals of Botany . 2019 Mar; 123(4): 625–639.
Gupton, Oscar Wilmont. An Analysis of the Taxonomic Criteria as Applies to the Genus Monotropa . The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1963. 6401852.
ITIS. Integrated Taxonomic Information System – Report on Monotropa uniflora .
Jansen, Suze A. et al. Grayanotoxin Poisoning: ‘Mad Honey Disease’ and Beyond . Cardiovascular Toxicology . 2012; 12(3): 208–215.
Klooster, Matthew R. and Theresa M. Culley. Comparative analysis of the reproductive ecology of Monotropa and Monotropsis : Two mycoheterotrophic genera in the Monotropoideae (Ericaceae) . American Journal of Botany . First published: 01 July 2009
Leopold, Susan. A History of Parasitic Plants from Ancient Herbals to Modern Scientific Research . United Plant Savers; audio file; accessed June, 2022.
Millspaugh, Charles Frederick. American Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated and Descriptive Guide to Plants Indigenous to and Naturalized in the United States which are Used in Medicine . See pp. 411 – 414.
Native American Ethnobotany Database . Online. Accessed June, 2022.
O’Neil, Alexander R. The Population Genetic Structure of the Mycoheterotroph Monotropa uniflora L. in North America .
Tsukaya, Hirokazu. Flowering time of two saprophytic plants, Monotropa uniflora L. and Monotropastrum humile (D. Don) Hara in Japan . Journal of Plant Research .
USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station; Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Chugach National Forest and the Kenai Peninsula . See Table 6-4—List of rare plant taxa tracked by the Alaska National Heritage Program occurring in the assessment area.
Winston, David. David Winston’s Center for Herbal Studies . Facebook post about Monotropa uniflora or Indian Pipe.
Our articles are for information and idea-sharing only. While we aim for 100% accuracy, it is solely up to the reader to provide proper identification. Be sure to seek out local foraging classes and plant walks, and invest in mushroom and foraging guides suitable for the area you live in, since some wild foods are poisonous, or may have adverse effect.
Jan is a writer, herbalist, natural soap educator, and bestselling author of The Big Book of Homemade Products, and Simple & Natural Soapmaking. She grows, forages, and rambles around 100 mostly wooded acres at the foot of the Appalachian mountains. Besides writing articles for her family website, Unruly Gardening, she's also the founder of TheNerdyFarmWife.com where you can find her sharing DIY natural skincare and soapmaking recipes, and herbal remedies.
How to Forage for Jewelweed + Uses
Learn how to identify and forage for jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), then how to use it to make a soothing poison ivy salve, and a jewelweed itch remedy with apple cider vinegar. Jewelweed’s always a fun plant to go hunting for! Loved by children for the explosion of seeds that burst forth at the gentlest contact…
Foraging St. John’s Wort: How To Identify And Harvest
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum) is a common weed with beautiful yellow flowers that are well loved by pollinators and herbalists alike! Learn how to identify and when to harvest this herb – then check out our accompanying article for information on making St. John’s Wort infused oil and salve for aches and pains! Tips…
Foraging & Using Cleavers
Cleavers is a common edible weed that also has herbal benefits. Learn how to identify and forage cleavers, plus ways to use it! Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a widely found spring weed that you’re likely to find in your garden, flower beds, or while exploring the forest around you. Other common names for cleavers include:…
Foraging Plantain Leaf & Uses
Learn how to identify and forage plantain, a common backyard weed, plus how to harvest, dry, and use it! The herbal weed we know as plantain belongs to the family Plantago – of which there are about 275 species worldwide. Some of the plantagos most commonly seen here in the United States are non-native, introduced…
How to Winter Sow Native Plants
Native plants are vital to supporting local birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. Learn how easy it is to grow a variety of native plants using the winter sowing method! In nature, wild plants produce flowers, then seeds, which naturally make their way to the ground and spend time over autumn and winter, experiencing lots of…
Foraging & Identifying Autumn Olive Berries (+lookalikes!)
Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), sometimes called Autumnberry, is an invasive shrub that produces loads of tangy but tasty berries each fall. When perfectly ripe, we like to eat them right off of the bush (you can chew the seeds or spit them out) and turn them into a delicious seasonal jelly. In this article, we’ll…
I discovered ghost pipe on our property in central Wisconcin by chance. There are several hundred plants that seem to be doing quite well. It’s good to know they are there if needed.
That’s awesome Tom! I feel reassured seeing it growing in spots around us as well – it’s good to know they’re there!
I have question does ghost pipe show up as anything on a drug test.
Hi Annette! That’s a great question! I’m not 100% sure of the answer. I know it’s sometimes used to help people come off of a drug trip, and haven’t heard of it causing a red flag result for anyone, so my first instinct is to say it shouldn’t. But, I haven’t seen any case studies to confirm my guess, and no one has studied all of the compounds within, so just can’t say for certain. I wish I could help more!
First time foragers here. My fiance knows someone who may need ghost pipe for pain. We found some on our property and he harvested so many tops probably 20 and just covered them in alcohol undiluted. So we have about 1/4 mason jar of buds and alcohol that have been sitting for about 4 weeks already. How would we go about diluting this for use so it isnt so strong? Can we just add more alcohol and would we need to let it sit longer after?
Hi Jolene! Yes, you could add more alcohol to dilute the tincture. I would go ahead and strain the tincture first if it looks really strong by now. Then you can dilute the strained tincture with regular vodka (80 proof) or any type of alcohol & use it right away. You might not need to dilute it though. How dark is the color? If it’s a really dark purple, it’s likely still fine to use. If it looks almost black however, that could be a bit too strong. If you want to send me a photo – hello @ unrulygardening .com then I’m happy to take a look at it! One idea: when you strain the tincture – count how many flowers are in there if possible. Then measure the amount of vodka/alcohol used. Record the data for next time – that will give you an idea of the ratio you used for this batch and if you find it is too strong, you’ll have an idea next time of how to adjust when making.
I have taken a lot of ghost pipe and a lot of drug tests. It has never come up.
Hi Rick, Thanks for chiming in – it’s much appreciated!
Wondering if ghost pipe tincture could be added to a salve for topical use?
Hi Jennifer! While there is some historical data as far as topical use for things like sores & warts: http://naeb.brit.org/uses/search/?string=monotropa (from the Native American Ethnobotany Database) I don’t believe an oil-based salve would be the best form for ghost pipe. Alcohol tinctures tend to bead out/separate from the oils without an emulsifier, so something like a liniment might be a better form. From my research however, it doesn’t appear to help pain when applied topically. (Though there’s a lot that hasn’t been studied about the plant, so future information may tell us otherwise!)
Where can someone purchase ghost pipe tincture?
Hi Mary! I would suggest checking out Running Waters Homestead – they place a high priority on sustainable harvesting & I’ve had good experience ordering from them in the past: https://runningwatershomestead.com/shop/
Hello! Thank you for writing this! I followed your instructions here to make ghost pipe tincture, but after 4 weeks, the tincture is clear and not purple. I’m now nervous to try it. Do you have any ideas of what could’ve happened?
I used three white ghost pipe stems and flowers, cut up into a few pieces under 4oz of 100 proof vodka, and let sit in a dark cabinet in a sealed glass container for 4 weeks.
Hi Sam! Sorry to hear that happened! It should have at least a little hint of purple to it – did you see any tinge of purple show up at any point in the infusion? Do you happen to have a photo of the plants you collected? There is a lookalike called pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) – it starts off kind of creamy white, then can get shades of red on it. I just updated this article to show a photo of pinesap so you can compare. https://unrulygardening.com/ghost-pipe-faqs/#ghost-pipe-lookalike You can also email a photo, if you have one, to hello @ unrulygardening .com and I’m happy to take a look and double check your plant! It sounds like you did everything right, which is what makes me wonder about pinesap being used instead. If you 100% did use ghost pipe though, then my other thought would be more flowers to alcohol ratio. I start on the low range of the alcohol; you can always add more in later to dilute if it’s too strong. It could also be some regional differences between size of the ghost pipe plants and what stages they are collected.
Can you use Ouzo or Everclear instead of vodka?
Hi Penelope! Yes, you can use Everclear instead. I’m unfamiliar with using Ouzo though, so not positive on that one. 🙂
Do the flowers and stems need to be fully white or is black ok? I picked some and parts of them turned black(mostly stems) before i was able to get them into some vodka. I did put them into vodka and my tincture is a dark purple. Against light you can see through it. Otherwise you cannot. I have had it in the jar for about a week. Maybe i should add more vodka to make it lighter? Or should I discard it because I cut the black stems into it?
Hi Samantha! If they were white when you picked them & you got them into the vodka within a few hours, then they should still be fine to use. They do turn black fairly quickly, so unless you bring your bottle of vodka out in the forest with you (which isn’t really practical when you’re hiking!) 🙂 it can be hard for them not to start darkening at least some before they get tinctured. It sounds like your tincture is the right color and strength! So unless the flowers sat in a hot car for half a day or something like that, I would personally be likely to use the tincture. However, if you still have a worried feel and you’re not 100% comfortable using it, then I always follow those intuitions.
I just need a bit of opinion/advice. I attempted to make ghost pipe and pinesap tinctures both are an amber color….any guesses as to why and is it safe to use? Please help?!?!? I have been waiting all year to make this I am kind of disappointed
thanks a million for your help 🍄
Hi S, I’m so sorry to hear that! Can you tell me more about what kind of alcohol you used? How much ghost pipe to alcohol ratio? I’ve not made pinesap tincture (or found references to date, as far as using it medicinally), so am unfamiliar with what color that would turn in a tincture, but ghost pipe should definitely have a purple hue.
Howdy, i understand this might not exactly be your wheelhouse but you folks seem very knowledgeable so thought I’d give it a whirl. My local herbalist recommended Ghost Pipe for a lifelong struggle with anxiety specifically connecting to sleep issues, and not a whole lot of success with other herbs and supplements. First night I tried 5 drops and had success. 2nd night since I was weening myself off other things did 7 drops. It seems if I don’t fall asleep quickly then it won’t happen at all and some time had passed. Started to panic. Since I had read on Sean Donahue’s piece he had used up to three 1ml tinctures (I believe 1 ml is dropperful), took 1 dropperful. waited a little while, still up,then took 2 more dropperfuls. Definitely felt like that was too much. Had a period I still wasn’t sleeping but must have finally slept as I awoke at some point and realized I had had a strange dream. Can you give any advice or share experiences about usage and dosage. I’m heartened I had some success but know 3 dropperfuls is definitely too much for me but don’t want to go too low either
Hi Eli! Most of us have the opposite effect here, where we have to ultra low dose everything because we react quickly & hard to many supplements. So we don’t have personal experience with high doses, though I have seen the Sean Donahue piece about using higher amounts too. The main member who uses occasional ghost pipe for similar reasons, also finds this daily supplement most helpful, in case it hasn’t been on your radar already: https://painstresscenter.com/products/ac This combination seems to be a good synergy for their unique body chemistry, so maybe it’s not that you need more ghost pipe, but a matter of pinpointing exactly what you took/ate/watched/experienced/etc the same night that the 5 drops worked well & finding that perfect mashup for you. I wish I had more to offer about higher dosing, but agree with you that it’s a promising sign that it worked at one point!
I’ve been making tinctures of ghost pipe for years and find it’s effects wonderful. Used primarily as a sleep aid, it’s worked wonders for me when I get bouts of insomnia. I also have a history of severe migraines and lower back pain. It’s a remedy that works! I live in Vermont surrounded by high elevation old growth forest and it’s beyond plentiful here, so I’m fortunate to have easy access to it. 4-6 drops is my magic number. Should also be noted it’s a recognized remedy for not only physical pain, but emotionao and mental pain stemming from trauma, depression, anxiety, etc. as well. I’ve never had an unpleasant experience with it, and some years I may only use it a handful of times – it truly is a sacred plant and should be respected. I hope modern botanists, ethnobotanists, medical researchers, organic chemists, etc. can more fully research this in the years to come – it deserves the attention, but I also worry about this becoming mainstream and trendy and over-harvested, much like Chaga has become lately. Just my thoughts….
This is an informative introductory article that I’ve shared with many people: Ghost Pipe- A Little Known Nervine – American Herbalists Guild https://www.americanherbalistsguild.com/sites/default/files/donahue_sean_-_ghost_pipe-_a_little_known_nervine.pdf
Hi Neil, Thank you for sharing your helpful information and experiences with ghost pipe!
I have a special relationship with this plant, it came into my life 3 years in a row by unexpected means, all in the same weekend of the year. I found it incredibly strong, and I am someone who takes hero doses of most herbs to see results. Less is more, in my own experience. A drop is all that is needed, and I found it a powerful trauma releaser. It was quite scary actually, completely unexpected. If something is sitting in you, it will get it out. The first year, I stumbled on it hiking, and recognized it after having had it described to me from a colleague. I ran to town, got some vodka, and headed back to find it. My fingers were black by the time I was home. I think is is a very special plant, like them all, but something very powerful about this one. Drop dosing for trauma release, and with caution. The following year was different. I received a text from my daughter who was travelling (who never texts me!) with a photo of Ghostpipe. She then picked it and tinctured it. This time was different, I went in with eyes wide open and asked the plant if I should take it. The result was still unexpectedly strong! Basically just really strong emotions, but I just went on tbe ride this time. Kinda like the worst PMS bad mood day ever.
Very interesting “plant”
Hi Jenny, Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with ghost pipe! It really is a fascinating plant!
Jan, a friend and I went looking for chanterells and stumbled into hundreds of Ghost-pipes. We didn’t know about using alcohol for a tincture till we got back to where we had cell service. We had picked about 30 and bought 100% Vodka on the way home. We used a mason jar, cut the Ghostpipes and filled the mason jar. 2 day the contents are black. From what I’ve read here I will need to dilute a bit after 4 weeks. So I’m wondering if by waiting an hour to get the GP’s in the alcohol what could go wrong?
Hi Dave, What a great find! I think the flowers should be fine in that one hour window. I wouldn’t use completely black or disintegrated flowers that had been cut for hours, but if they were just aging a tiny bit and still mostly white, I personally wouldn’t have a problem using them.
Can you store the flowers by freezing or drying them? We get them each year but some years, like this one, we get way more
Hi Derek! I recently watched an excellent webinar with Dr Eric Burkhart of Penn State & his grad student, who is studying ghost pipe, and he mentioned that traditionally, the plant was used in the dried form, but over time it became popular to use it as an alcohol extract instead. I’ll need to re-watch the webinar when the replay link is published, to be certain of exact wording, but I believe he suggested drying at 95 degrees F with circulating air. Testing out dried flowers is high on my priority list! We’re having a lower flower year so far (because of a very dry spring impacting early bloomers), but one of my best ghost pipe spots should produce flowers later in the year, so hopefully I’ll have several flowers to dry and experiment with. I’m not sure about freezing though.
Thank you for the information. I sent an email with a photo, but I have another question here. I found one cluster of 18 plants with a group of 12 dried plants. Is this common or rare? I am a bit late finding them as I found them today August 16th. I am in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so maybe our season is a bit different than southern states?
Hi Dennis! I got your email and replied earlier today; hope you got that message! That sounds like a good grouping of plants; I would classify that as common & personally harvest from an area like that.
Hello I have a 32 oz mason jar completely full of ghost pipe that I covered with ever clear after reading your article about only needing a few pipes should I dilute my tincture with water?
Hi Sheila! I would test the tincture (one drop) and see if you can gauge the strength before diluting. A larger amount of fresh plant matter may mean a larger amount of water content, so it may all balance out.
About the leftover flowers and stems of the ghost pipe that you made the tincture out of… what to do with them? Can they be dried, frozen, eaten, made into a spread? What do you do with your leftovers?
Hi Colleen! I just discard the leftovers outside, because most of the beneficial compounds should now be in the tincture.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
A Forager’s Guide to Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)
Monotropa uniflora plant profile
Common names include:
- Indian pipe
- Corpse plant
- Death plant
- Ghost flower
- Bird’s nest
What Is Ghost Pipe (Monotropa uniflora)?
Ghost pipe, scientifically known as Monotropa uniflora, is a unique and fascinating flowering plant found in North American forests.
Ghost pipe is known for its distinctive, ghostly white appearance . The entire plant lacks chlorophyll, giving it a translucent or waxy white color. It does not undergo photosynthesis.
What Are You Foraging For Right Now?
We're thrilled to hear your ideas. what would you like to submit today feel free to share your thoughts and experiences with us..
Instead, it relies on a mycorrhizal association with fungi for nutrients obtained from nearby trees.
Ghost pipe holds cultural significance in some Indigenous traditions, where it’s with specific rituals or beliefs. Some Indigenous beliefs connect ghost pipe to forest spirits or entities residing in wooded areas.
Why Is it Called Ghost Pipe?
The combination of its translucent, waxy appearance, nodding flower structure, and preference for shaded forest locations contribute to the plant’s name, ghost pipe. Is Ghost Pipe a Fungus?
Ghost pipe is not a fungus.
While ghost pipe may resemble a fungus, it is essential to recognize its identity as a non-photosynthetic flowering plant.
Where Is Ghost Pipe Found?
Ghost pipe is a native plant to temperate regions of North America, South America, and Asia, with very large gaps in between. This delicate and ethereal plant is quite rare to find.
Ghost pipe is frequently found in both deciduous and coniferous forests , especially near beech, oak, psruce and pine species. It thrives in the cool, shaded environments provided by the canopy of trees.
The plant tends to grow in rich, moist soils and in damp conditions. It prefers shaded locations within the forest.
How to Identify Ghost Pipe?
The ghost pipe plant is rather unique and can be easily identified by its translucent stem and translucent white or pinkish color . Also, it looks a bit like a tobacco pipe.
Ghost Pppe typically stands between 6 to 10 inches tall. The plant produces a single, nodding, flower-like structure with a solitary flower at the top. Ghost pipe lacks true leaves and stems. Instead, it has a central stalk that supports the flower.
Ghost Pipe is a perennial plant, but it may not always be visible above ground. It typically emerges in late spring to early summer and can persist into the fall.
It has translucent scale-like leaves arranged along the stem that measure less than an inch in length. As the leaves do not participate in photosynthesis, they are vestigial.
The Indian pipe bears a single white flower with 4 to 6 segments. There is only one flower on each stem of a plant.
Once pollinated by an insect, the flower appears like a shepherd’s hook but gradually straightens out. It is at this point that the stem becomes upright.
It usually blooms from late July through August, although it may appear as early as late June in some years.
How Rare Is a Ghost Pipe?
Even though ghost pipe grows wild throughout the United States (except in the Southwest), sightings are rare.
It emerges in late spring to early summer. Outside of this period, it can be challenging to spot.
This plant is perennial and will reappear in the same location each year.
Is Ghost Pipe Edible or Medicinal?
Ghost pipe is not considered a healthy edible, so you are probably better off avoiding eating it.
A few people have reported eating some, but nearly as many have reported feeling ill or strange after doing so.
There are several myths and questionable claims associated with this plant. The Indian pipe plant, for example, is often referred to as a hallucinogen by many people. There is no definitive answer to this question.
Is Ghost Pipe Poisonous in Any Way?
Ghost pipe contains compounds that may be harmful, and caution is advised regarding its consumption.
While the plant is not known to be highly toxic, it is considered potentially toxic and is not typically consumed as food.
Ghost Pipe Uses in Native American Culture
- Native Americans used ghost pipe tincture medicinally for its ability to treat both physical and emotional pain.
- In Cherokee culture, the root was used to prevent convulsions.
- In Mohegan culture, it was used for pain relief.
- In Cree culture, the flower was chewed to treat toothaches.
Other wild plants often used by Native Americans include:
- Goat’s beard
How useful was this post?
Click on a star to rate it!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?
Ana has always been interested in all things nature and flora. With her expertise in home gardening and interest in foraging, she has been spending her weekends and free time looking for edible native plants, flowers, and fungi. One of her many hobbies includes testing new savory and sweet recipes, juices or teas made from freshly picked plants, wild fruits, or mushrooms.
Leave a Comment Cancel reply
Connect with the Foraging Community
Whether you have a question about identifying a new plant or mushroom you found, or want to share photos from your latest foraging adventure, our site is the place to reach other foraging enthusiasts.
Digital Authority Group
N28W23000 Roundy Dr. Pewaukee, WI 53072
© Foraging Guru
- Oct 26, 2020
Into the Haunted Forest: Ghost Pipe
Written by Clary Greacen Montagne
Cluster of Monotropa uniflora. Photo by Courtney Celley, USFWS.
Wandering through a dark and shady forest, perhaps foraging for mushrooms, you might happen upon a small cluster of ghostly pale flowers growing through the leaf litter. This curious and elusive plant is the Monotropa uniflora, also known as Ghost Pipe, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant. Formerly considered to be part of the Heath family (Ericaceae), recent evidence suggests they are worthy of their own classification, Monotropaceae. The single, bell-shaped flowers of Ghost Pipe grow on curved stems, Monotropa meaning “one turn.” Each stem and flower resemble a small upside down pipe, hence the name “Ghost Pipe.” These plants can be found throughout most of the U.S., growing in the rich humus of mature forests at low to moderate elevations, and can also be found in some parts of Asia. While widespread in range, they are not commonly found. Ghost Pipe requires a very specific growing process and because of this, is practically impossible to cultivate or propagate.
This mycotrophic wildflower grows at the base of trees where roots meet the mycelium network, getting all their nutrition through a symbiotic relationship with fungi. Ghost Pipe owes its waxy white appearance to a lack of chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows most plants to photosynthesize. Instead of photosynthesis, Ghost Pipe gets its necessary nutrients through a mycorrhizal association with a fungus. In this unique relationship, a fungus invades the roots of the plant, allowing the plant to get its energy from the photosynthesis of the fungus’ host tree. With no light dependency, Ghost Pipe is able to thrive in the dark, spooky environment of the forest floor.
Photo by Helen Lowe Metzman.
Spending most of their life underground, these plants flower in the small window between June and September, when they poke up through the leaf litter alone or in small stands. Ghost Pipe grows between four and eight inches tall, and is pale white in color with small black or pink specks, and can also have brightly colored pink stems. The plants have small, scale-like leaves and five parted white flowers, with a single flower per stem. Ghost Pipe is pollinated by bees, who hang on to its flower upside down. Upon first flowering and emerging from the ground, the flower hangs downward, but as the fruit capsule matures, the flower points upwards in line with the stem. Once the fruit has ripened, seeds are released through small slits and dispersed by wind. The Ghost Pipe will flower for about a week, before shriveling and turning black, hence its alternate name, “Corpse Plant.”
Ghost Pipe has been used by indigenous peoples of North America as a medicinal plant, primarily for its pain-relieving properties. A Cherokee legend about Ghost Pipe tells of a time long ago, when selfishness first entered the world, and people began quarreling. First, they quarreled with their own families and tribal members, and then with other tribes. The chiefs of several tribes met together to try to solve the disputes, and smoked a peace pipe together, while continuing to quarrel with each other for seven days and seven nights. In punishment for smoking the peace pipe before actually making peace, the Great Spirit turned the chiefs into grey flowers and made them grow where relatives and friends had quarreled.
Ghost Pipe is used today in Western Herbal Medicine as a nervine, or plant beneficial to the nervous system, and may provide benefits for epilepsy, psychological conditions, and physical pain. Unfortunately, the popularity of this plant in Western Herbal Medicine has caused it to be overharvested. Ghost Pipe is extremely delicate, so much so that when handled, it wilts very quickly and turns black. It’s best to admire this ghostly plant without attempting to handle or harvest it.
- Connecting Wild Places
- Protecting Forests & Public Lands
Happy New Year! EPIC 2023 Year in Review
Naughty & Nice List: Environment Edition 2023
Giving Thanks for Tribal Stewardship
Dive deep into the unseen, three-way relationship between the mysterious ghost pipe, fungi and forest trees..
By Sara Wright
Ghost pipe, Indian pipe, and ice plant are three common names for Monotropa uniflora , a plant that totally lacks chlorophyll, making this group an exception in the plant world.
I loved ghost pipes as a child, fascinated by the ‘bouquets’ of pure white nodding flowers, one on each stalk, and the diminutive white ‘leaves’ (actually scales) that my little brother and I found in the deep, shaded woods. Frequently, they appeared after a good rain. Because my brother and I haunted our woods, we noted how fast the flowers turned their faces to the sky and how soon the plants turned blackish. The whole show was over in a few days. I have since learned that, as soon as the flowers turn skyward, they have been pollinated by bumblebees or other insects who crawled into the flowers. The seeds are released to the wind.
Ghost pipe is low growing, about four to ten inches tall. Some are pale pink with spots. Sometimes only one or two single stemmed flowers appear, but I have large clumps of white ghost pipes just about everywhere. The delicate four to six petals of the flower begin to bloom around the end of June, but it isn’t until later in the summer that I find clusters in abundance. This year I had many groups late into September.
Although ghost pipes are native throughout most of the United States and grow in Mexico, Central America, and Asia, they are considered endangered in a number of states. They will not grow in recently disturbed areas. An inventory of plants taken a decade after either clear cut or selective logging operations demonstrates the dramatic decline of ghost pipe in states where the plant has been studied. Many states including Maine haven’t even addressed the prevalence or scarcity of ghost pipes, so their status is unknown. The International Union for Conservation and Biodiversity (ICUN) has just started to study fungi on a global level so only a few fungi are listed as endangered. The lack of data is troubling.
What we do know is that this plant has highly specialized growing conditions. It cannot be grown at home or commercially, and the deep rich forests that ghost pipes depend on for survival are in decline as a direct result of clear cut or ‘selective’ logging (taking only the most economically valuable trees), invasive plant infestations, human development, etc. The current trend of using the forest to forage for ‘free’ food and medicines without restraint may be the worst threat the ghost pipe has ever faced. I saw baskets of ghost pipes on a mushroom website last summer. It is important to note that these plants are perennials, and, if the roots, more accurately hyphae, are pulled, the plant will not return. One caveat: the plant’s toxicity may be a potential issue for some people.
I first became curious about ghost pipe’s fungal relationships after my recent re-reading of Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life because Voyria, a flower that he studied in Panama, is also a non-photosynthetic native flowering plant. Like ghost pipe, Voyria obtains its nutrients by tapping into tree roots that obtain energy from photosynthesis, but it does so indirectly. Ghost pipes do exactly the same thing. They use the root-like structures of mycelia of some Russulas , the fruiting bodies of the mycorrhizal mycelial network, as their highway to reach the roots of trees. Russula are a very large genus of mushrooms that are composed of many species that include Lactarius and Amanitas .
Unlike other mycorrhizal fungi that penetrate the roots, the hyphae of these fungi do not penetrate their host’s cell walls. Instead, they form a mantle of intricately branched hyphae between the root cells of trees and take what they need that way ( ectomycorrhizal ). They grow profusely under hemlock, pine, fir, spruce, oak, hickory, alder, and beech if the right fungi are there!
To my great surprise, I finally have an answer to a question I have had for years. Across the brook where I live I have an older mixed conifer forest that has a large healthy stand of hemlock. I find so many Amanitas, Russulas, and Lactarius mushrooms in these areas that are peppered with generous sprays of ghost pipes that it has been impossible to ignore that there had to be a reason I had such abundance in this part of my woods. The mycelial network that supports Russulas, Lactarius, and Amanitas acts as the intermediate “highway” connecting ghost pipes to the tree roots that will provide them with the nutrients they need for survival. Discovering this fantastic relationship between ghost pipes, Russulas , and hemlocks leaves me with more questions than answers. I find this three-way highway to be an extraordinary adaptation. What is it about a particular fungus that makes it so appealing as an intermediate host?
Equally mind-bending is the fact that ghost pipe and Voyria are only two of approximately 3,000 non-photosynthetic plants. I had no idea there were so many. It’s abundantly clear to me that I know almost nothing about what’s happening right under my feet! Enjoy these astonishing plants if you walk in densely shaded protected woods and go back more than once to see what happens in one day! But please do not pick or harvest the stems and flowers.
If You Can See The Dark
Our Backyard Gardens: Plant Hardiness & Climate Change
Birds, Bees & Beyond: Who are our pollinators? — Part Two
- Find Nurseries
- California Garden Planner
- Bay Area Garden Planner (NEW)
- Planting Guide
- My Plant Lists
- Print Plant Signs
- Print Plant Labels
- Export To Excel
- Export To Excel (Detailed)
- Added Add to My Plant List
Ghost-pipe Monotropa uniflora
Sign in to your calscape account x.
How to Grow Ghost Pipe: A Comprehensive Guide
Today, we'd like to introduce you to a particularly fascinating plant: the ghost pipe . In this guide, we will discuss how to grow ghost pipe, a rare and unique plant that can bring a touch of the extraordinary to your meals and perhaps even transform your view on food.
Ghost pipe, known scientifically as Monotropa uniflora, is a peculiar plant that stands out for its ghostly white coloration. Unlike most plants, ghost pipe doesn’t photosynthesize. Instead, it has a complex relationship with the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil and nearby trees, siphoning nutrients indirectly from them. This makes learning how to grow ghost pipe quite a different experience from your typical gardening endeavor.
To begin your journey in understanding how to grow ghost pipe, it's important to recognize its distinctive growing conditions. Ghost pipe thrives in moist, shaded woodlands with plenty of leaf litter and organic material. It prefers acidic soil that is rich in humus. If you're growing ghost pipe at home, you'll need to replicate these conditions as closely as possible. Mimic a forest floor with organic compost and keep the plant in a place that doesn't get direct sunlight.
However, knowing how to grow ghost pipe is not merely about replicating its natural habitat. As a mycoheterotrophic plant, it relies on a specific network of fungi and trees to survive. It's essential to introduce the plant to a soil that already hosts the right fungi - typically, these are of the Russulaceae family. You may also need a host tree, such as a beech or pine, which the fungi can form a symbiotic relationship with. This might sound complex, but it's a remarkable demonstration of the interconnectedness of nature and a fantastic way to bring a piece of the woodland ecosystem into your own garden.
Next, in your journey to understand how to grow ghost pipe, patience is key. Ghost pipe plant is a slow grower. It may take a year or more before you see the first ghostly white stem push its way through the soil. This slow growth is a testament to the intricate web of connections the ghost pipe plant relies on for its survival. It's a reminder that good things often take time, and that slow, mindful growth can result in something truly unique and beautiful.
Once the ghost pipe plant is established, it requires little maintenance. However, its delicate nature means you must be cautious when handling it. Avoid disturbing the plant or its surrounding soil as much as possible to keep the fungal network intact. This is an integral part of learning how to grow ghost pipe, as disturbing this network could disrupt the plant's nutrient supply.
While ghost pipe may not be edible, its unusual growth process and striking appearance make it a fascinating addition to your garden. More than that, understanding how to grow ghost pipe can provide a new perspective on the complex relationships within our natural world, reminding us of the magic that lies just beneath the surface.
At Foraged, we're about more than just providing hard-to-find foods. We're about encouraging you to engage with the natural world in new ways, to understand the journey your food makes from the earth to your plate, and to find joy and wonder in that process. Learning how to grow ghost pipe is just one way you can begin to forge this deeper connection with your food and the world around you.
We hope this guide has sparked your curiosity and given you a new perspective on what food can be. So why not give it a try? Learn how to grow ghost pipe , delve into the world of foraging, and reconnect with nature through your food. It's a journey that we promise will be as rewarding as it is delicious.
Buy Ghost Pipe
Learn more about indian (ghost) pipe.
A Beginner's Guide to the Unseen: An Introduction to the Ghost Pipe
Exploring the Potential Ghost Pipe Benefits: Unveiling the Secrets
At Foraged, we’re on a mission to empower small-scale food purveyors to grow healthy, sustainable businesses while nourishing everyday people by providing easy access to unique foods.
By supporting Foraged vendors, you're helping to build a better, more sustainable food system for everyone.
Plus, we're committed to doing things the right way - our platform puts the power back in the knowledgeable hands of those who grow, harvest, and create foods most responsibly.
And we don't just stop there, we also want to make sure you know how to cook and preserve the specialty foods you source from Foraged, which is why we provide educational resources and delicious recipes for you to try.
If you’re interested in partnering with us to earn 5% passive commission with every referral, please visit this page to learn more.
make something wild
7 Best Chanterelle Mushroom Recipes
Our 5 Best Morel Mushroom Recipes
Ghost Pipe – Monotropa Uniflora: Edible & Medicinal Uses of That’s Not a Mushroom of Wild Plants
Table of contents, edible uses of ghost pipe, medicinal uses of ghost pipe, alternative uses of ghost plant, growing monotropa uniflora.
Ghost pipes are an herb most will mistake for a mushroom. This pale wildflower has forgone photosynthesis and can often be found in the darkest woods. It’s one of the many edible and medicinal plants that should probably be left alone due to being rarer and in this case, especially hard to propagate.
There are many names for it, including corpse plant and fairy smoke. In Haliburton Flora it’s called Indian pipe, in reference to its being shaped like a ceremonial pipe. I am not sure what the species status is around Haliburton, Ontario now. Decades ago it was fairly common here. It seems to depend on the year. We have the rarer yellow and pink tinted pinesap ( Monotropa hypopitys ) here too.
Despite the Latin name hinting at being in the family monotropaceae , the whole lot of monotropaceae are now a subfamily of the ericaceae family. Also known as the heath family. That makes it a close relative of blueberries , cranberries, etc. All the monotropa subfamily are parasitic plants, most getting their energy through fungal hosts. The fungal hosts, apparently russula and lactarius species in this case, get their sugar/energy from trees. The trees, of course, from the sun in ways you learned about in grade school. A photosynthetic tree, a web of mycorrhizal fungus, to a parasitic plant. There are thousands of plant species that are like this. And there is a vast web of life under the soil that we are only beginning to understand.
If you search “is ghost pipe edible?” you’ll find site after site that are a copy/paste of one another claiming it’s sort of edible and tastes like asparagus. Literally there is an exact duplicate sentence used on every site I saw. There’s also the exact opposite, fear mongering content that makes nibbling one stalk sound deadly.
Technically, this bland tasting and fragile plant could be eaten raw, roasted, or boiled in small amounts. It is mildly toxic due to several glycosides (e.g. andromedotoxin ). I’m not clear on how much is too much. It can be especially dangerous if you have any cardiovascular issues. It’s definitely not for a beginner forager and brings to mind other “iffy” “edibles” like Jack-in-the-Pulpit or wintergreen .
And as for the fragileness, they may decompose when touched. They melt away if rubbed. In many places this plant is also too rare for harvesting to be considered ethical.
Ghost pipe is primarily said to support these body systems:
Medicinal tags include Analgesic, Antispasmodic, Nervine and Sedative. See Medicinal tag key for more information.
Common usage includes as an antispasmodic for nervous conditions with spasms and convulsions, lending it the nicknames “convulsion-root” and “fit plant”. Uses have not been limited to that, but the plant isn’t used much anymore due to its at risk species status in many areas.
For those who have large amounts on their property, I found an herbalist from the American Herbalists Guild describing their practice with ghost plant/Indian pipe and how they maintain the patch.
It may surprise you that bumblebees will visit the flowers!
While this plant isn’t a fungus, it needs specific types of fungi to grow. So you can’t plop a seed in the ground anywhere and expect results. They are also ephemeral and want to come up after an extended dry period followed by rain. In those conditions they will come up and be full grown within a couple days! I have a huge patch, but it didn’t even show up in 2020. Was it the lack of that dry-to-rain? Was it the tree that fell? An old spruce tree twisted itself to death in a windstorm and I wonder if that was the main tree for the fungi and the ghost pipe?
It wasn’t until summer 2021 that my ghost pipe patch began to re-emerge. Only a few pipes came up, but we seem to be recovering from whatever happened.
While you could try to collect the seeds and a little soil from the same area, plant it in the dark woods perhaps near some beech, oak or pine, and hope for the best, it’s unlikely to work. Since propagation is hard, I treat my patch as sacred like the pipes they are shaped as. And even that might have not been enough. :`(
Similar plants may have their seeds dispersed by crickets . Perhaps something similar is happening in our woods. As it stands, the wind is given the credit for seed dispersal.
If you have any cardiovascular issues, it’s probably best to skip taste testing this wild plant out of an abundance of caution.
And the Usual Cautions: 1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation. 2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk. 3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. 4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet. 5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.
#ads in References
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Every book I reference that is available on Amazon is linked to with an associates link.
Planting the Future: Saving Our Medicinal Herbs
Reader’s Digest Magic and Medicine of Plants
The Herb Book: The Most Complete Catalog of Herbs Ever Published (Dover Cookbooks)
Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada
- Bluebead Lily – Clintonia Borealis: Edible & Medicinal Uses of Poisonberry of Wild Plants In Anishinaabemowin, odotaagaans+ag, bluebead lily has toxic berries, but it’s still...
- Clubmosses – Lycopodium SPP.: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Not Really a Moss of Wild Plants In Haliburton Flora, there are 9 clubmosses (lycopodium spp.) listed....
- American Wintergreen – Gaultheria Procumbens: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Other Snowberry of Wild Plants In Chippewa, wini’sibugons’ meaning “dirty leaf”, American wintergreen is often called...
- Wild Lettuces – Lactuca SPP.: Edible & Medicinal Uses of the Opium of Wild Plants In Chippewa, odjici’gomin refers to Canada wild lettuce (lactuca canadensis), one...
Leave a Comment Cancel reply
Ghost Pipe facts and uses
It is one of about 3000 species of non-photosynthetic (i.e. heterotrophic) flowering plants. Unlike most plants, it doesn’t have chlorophyll, the stuff that makes plants green. Indian pipe looks waxy and sometimes totally white but commonly it has black flecks and a pale pink coloration. Rare variants may have a deep red color. It is a mysterious, underground except when flowering, perennial common boreal non-photosynthetic flowering epi-parasite. It parasitizes parasitic tree fungi, and is not dependent on one particular fungus, forming associations with at least a dozen different fungi, many of which produce edible mushrooms. It seems completely dependent on its host fungi for organic nutrients. The whole plant is ivory-white in all its parts, resembling frozen jelly, and is very succulent and tender, so much so that when handled it dissolves and melts away in the hands like ice.
Ghost Pipe is actually a herbaceous perennial plant that grows about 10 to 30 centimeters tall. The plant is found growing in complete shade on stable forest floors, usually where green plants do not. It prefers Rich, moist soil, or soil composed, of decayed wood and leaves, and near the base of trees. It is non-photosynthetic and contains no chlorophyll or green parts. Because of its ghostly white appearance, the plant is sometimes mistaken for a fungus. Roots are dark-colored, fibrous, perennial, matted in masses about as large as a chestnut-burr. Stem is 4 to 8 inches high, terete, white (sometimes tinted pink), translucent, fleshy, and hairless. Leaves are sessile, lanceolate, white, semi-transparent that alternate up the stem.
The above-ground portion of the plant consists entirely of delicate white translucent flowers and flower stems, one flower per stem. The flowers first appear as bent white tubes about 1/8-1/4 inch diameter, which slowly elongate, straighten, and display their respective terminal floral buds, at a height of 6-10 inches in clumps of 2-100. Each fragile stem and young flower resembles a white clay pipe. The down-turned flowers are pollinated by bees upside down. They have no fragrance. They flower for about a week and then die, turning black as they do so, hence the name Corpse Plant. They are very tender and succulent, but when picked will melt away and dissolve. If you pick it then it wilts and turns black very quickly. The flower is shaped like a pipe bowl and so it got its name, the Indian pipe plant, although it is also known as the Dutchman’s pipe. It looks like a calumet, the Native Americans’ pipe of peace. Flowering normally takes place from August to November.
After the blooming period, the entire plant becomes dark brown or black, and each flower is replaced by an erect ovoid seed capsule about ½ inches long. This seed capsule is 5-celled and contains numerous tiny seeds, which are easily blown about by the wind after the capsule splits open.
There is a Cherokee legend about the Indian pipe: Long ago, when selfishness first entered the world, people began quarreling, first with their own families and tribal members, and then with other tribes. The chiefs of the several tribes met together to try to solve the problem of quarreling. They smoked a peace pipe together, while continuing to quarrel among themselves for the next seven days and seven nights. In punishment for smoking the peace pipe before actually making peace, the Great Spirit turned the chiefs into grey flowers and made them grow where relatives and friends had quarreled.
Traditional uses and benefits of Ghost Pipe
- An infusion of the root is antispasmodic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, and tonic.
- It is a good remedy for spasms, fainting spells and various nervous conditions.
- It has been given to children who suffer from fits, epilepsy and convulsions.
- Plant was used by some native North American Indian tribes to treat eye problems, the stem was bruised and the clear fluid of the stems applied to the eyes.
- Juice from the stems has also been used to treat nervous irritability, including fits and spasms.
- It has been recommended in the past as a possible opium substitute.
- An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat colds and fevers.
- Crushed plant has been rubbed on bunions and warts in order to destroy them.
- Poultice of the plant has been applied to sores that are difficult to heal.
- Flowers have been chewed in order to bring relief from toothache.
- Water extracts of the plant are bactericidal.
- Powder has been used in instances of restlessness, pains, nervous irritability, etc., as a substitute for opium, without any deleterious influences.
- It is supposed to have cured remittent and intermittent fevers, and to be an excellent antiperiodic.
- In convulsions of children, epilepsy, chorea, and other spasmodic affections, its administration has been followed with prompt success.
- Juice of the plant, alone, or combined with rose water , has been found to be an excellent application for obstinate ophthalmic inflammation, to ulcers, and as an injection in gonorrhea, inflammation and ulceration of the bladder.
- It has also been used in cases of acute anxiety and/or psychotic episodes due to intense drug experiences.
- It has been used effectively in treating severe mental and emotional pain due to PTSD and other traumatic injury, as well as severe nerve pain due to Lyme disease.
- Plant teas ingested for aches and pains associated with colds.
- Root tea used for convulsions, fits, epilepsy, and as a sedative. Roots also have antispasmodic properties.
- Tisane can be made with the plant to help with colds and flu.
- It is a useful first aid remedy that helps ease pain caused by trauma, tension, migraines, or pinched nerves.
- It also helps relieve skeletal tension associated with migraines and neck pain, as well as sharp, shooting pains associated with pinched nerves.
- The whole plant can be cooked.
- It is tasteless if eaten raw, but has a taste like asparagus when it is cooked.
Dosage may vary depending on individuals and practitioners. Some herbalists are suggesting this in drop dosages and others in ml dosages. Experimenting with the dosage of this plant for yourself would be a good way to go. Start small and add on until you notice its effects. Also, consider the situation a more acute first aid type situation may require a larger dosage than treating something like a mild chronic pain.
Health benefits of gray rattlebox, health benefits of coutarea, health benefits of stone breaker plant.
Comments are closed.
Type above and press Enter to search. Press Esc to cancel.
Indian Pipe Monotropa uniflora
To support our efforts please browse our store (books with health benefits, etc.).
IMPORTANT: this plant contains andromedotoxin therefore use in moderation. According to the University of Bristol the human digestive system can break down andromedotoxin into harmless compounds, HOWEVER, when too much as been consumed then the individual will experience symptoms of vomiting and stomach upset, as well as reduced blood pressure. More often than not the Indian Pipe is often thought to be a fungus yet it is a flowering plant. It belongs to the Ericaceae (blueberry) family. This is one of about 3,000 species of non-photosynthetic flowering plants. Monotropa uniflora can actually grow in dark environments because it is not dependent on light for photosynthesis. These plants were once believed to absorb all nutrients from decayed organic material, but it is now known that they are associated with a fungus, which obtains nutrients directly from the roots of green plants. Therefore this makes the Indian Pipe a parasite, using the fungus as a bridge between it and its host. It is also known as the Ghost Pipe, Pipe plant, or the Corpse plant. It is native to North America.
This is very easy to spot when mature as its shape resembles a pipe and it is white. When bruised or as its lifecycle ends then it becomes black.
Single flowers grow to about 2cm (1”) long nod, are bell-like and occur at the end of the stem. The 4 to 6 (usually 5) translucent white petals are barely discernable from the reduced sepals and faint, scale like leaves that fall over the flower head. All parts of this frail, plant blacken quickly from bruises.
This plant has no leaves. There are pale white scales along the stem.
10 to 20 cm (4 to 8”).
This plant occurs in rich habitats, dense moist forests usually with a lot of surface leaf litter, often in a situation that is too shaded for autotrophic (photosynthetic) growth. The Indian Pipe grows throughout Canada, most of the U.S., some European countries, eastern Asia, and possibly parts of South America.
Indian Pipes have had some edible uses over the years although it has been and continues to be used extensively for medicinal purposes. According to Plants for a Future `the whole plant can be cooked. It is tasteless if eaten raw, but has a taste like asparagus when it is cooked`. Depending on your location this may be a protected plant – check with local laws. Also, there is a warning in regards to edibilty – see below!
Christmas Book Special
Winter Survival Food Handbook
Edible wild plants pictorial guide.
PDF Plant Magazines
Types of Wild Food
Now available beginner's guide to safely foraging for wild mushrooms.
Our Foraging Cookbook has been published and is available at Amazon.
Alphabetical Plant Listing
Geographic zones seasons.
EdibleWildFood.com is informational in nature. While we strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects.
We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site. Please click here for more information.
Why Edible Wild Food?
- Food costs are rising
- Free, wild food is readily abundant
- Wild food adds nutrition to your diet
- Wild food can help treat various medical conditions
- Foraging Videos
- Privacy Statement
- Media Mentions
- Preserving Wild Edibles
- Poisonous Plants
- Fields of Nutrition Sources
- Make a Donation
Forest Farming Series: Ghost-Pipe/Indian-Pipe
* Required Fields
Registration is closed at this time. Please click the "Register" button to learn about availability for this event, or to be put on the wait list.
The agroforestry practice forest farming is the production of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in forests to produce edible and medicinal crops for personal use and income. During Forest Farming Series: Ghost-Pipe/Indian-Pipe , we will review the uses and benefits of the medicinal plant Ghost-pipe, also known as Indian-pipe Monotropa uniflora .
1.5 Society of American Foresters (SAF) Credits are available for an additional fee. Visit the event for details.
Registration is required to receive the link to access the webinar. Registrants will also receive access to the webinar recording.
- Forest Landowners
- Recreational and Commercial Foragers
- Foraged Plant Consumers
- Natural Resource Agency Personnel
- Land Managers
- Uses, trade, cultural importance
- Identification, biology, and ecology
- Benefits of the medicinal ghost-pipe plant
- Where ghost-pipe plants grow
- Wild population stewardship and forest farming approaches
- Research updates and educational opportunities
How do I access a webinar?
When you register for a webinar, you will also receive email instructions to help you access the webinar.
How long is a webinar?
Every webinar is different. To find the length of a specific webinar, please refer to the webinar description.
If I register for a webinar, but am unable to attend the live session, can I view a recording of the webinar at a later time?
All webinars require you to have access to the internet. It is also recommended that your device has sound. Please refer to the webinar description to learn if there are special requirements for viewing a specific webinar.
Can a recorded webinar be viewed multiple times?
In most cases, yes! If a webinar is recorded, there is no limit to how many times the recording can be viewed.
What materials will I need for a webinar?
What devices and browsers are supported for webinars.
Webinars can be accessed on most desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. Webinars are compatible with most up-to-date browsers. Please refer to the webinar description to learn about any special requirements for a specific webinar to ensure your device is supported.
Is there technical support for webinars?
You will receive instructions for accessing a webinar after registration. It is recommended that you log in to the webinar a few minutes early to make sure that you are not experiencing any technical difficulties. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please let us know using the contact information available on the webinar description.
Will I be given the opportunity to ask questions during a live webinar?
In most cases, yes. Most live webinars give participants an opportunity to ask questions and communicate through a chat box. The chat box is actively monitored, and the presenter(s) will facilitate communication.
Are webinars accessible for people who require special needs or services?
We strive to ensure our webinars are accessible to everyone. If you need assistance accessing a webinar, please visit the "Contact Us" form using the link in the footer of this page. We will be glad to assist you.
Who do I contact if I have a question about a specific webinar?
Contact information is available on every webinar description. If you have a question about a specific webinar, please use the contact information available on the webinar description.
How do I register for a webinar over the phone?
Contact our customer service team at 1-877-345-0691 for assistance over the phone. We are here to help on weekdays between 8:30am - 5pm Eastern Time.
You May Also Be Interested In...
Calculating the Green Weight of Wood Species
Toxicity of Yew Wood and Roots
Be Safe Around Wooden Pallets!
Hardwood or Hard Wood?
Forest Taxation: Forest Finance and Timber Tax Education
Why Does Lumber Need to be Dried?
Hardwood Lumber Grading Short Course
Raw Milk Quality
Amphibians and Reptiles in Your Woods
Personalize your experience with penn state extension and stay informed of the latest in agriculture..
Toronto Botanical Garden
A Garden for All
One of Nature’s Spookiest Plants
Ghost pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is one of nature’s spookiest plants, but also a species native to Ontario and much of North America. Like ghosts of the forest, they emerge as a translucent white flower. Since they are a parasitic plant, ghost pipe does not depend on light for photosynthesis and lacks chlorophyll. This means it can grow in darkness and is typically found in mature, moist, shaded woods. Ghost pipe consumes nutrients and carbohydrates from tree roots via a relationship with myccorhizal fungi in the genera Russula and Lactarius. This strange and creepy native plant shows us how there is more lurking below the soil’s surface.
What’s beautiful in Winter
December 1, 2022 December 1, 2022
What’s in Bloom in November
November 3, 2022 November 9, 2022
Fall Colours in October
September 28, 2022 September 29, 2022
- Email Address
- Phone This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
What Is Indian Pipe Plant – Learn About The Indian Pipe Fungus
- Sign up to our newsletter Newsletter
What is Indian pipe? This fascinating plant ( Monotropa uniflora ) is definitely one of nature’s weird wonders. Because it has no chlorophyll and doesn’t depend on photosynthesis , this ghostly white plant is able to grow in the darkest of forests. Many people refer to this strange plant as Indian pipe fungus, but it is not a fungus at all – it just looks like one. It is actually a flowering plant, and believe it or not, it is a member of the blueberry family. Keep reading for more Indian pipe info.
Indian Pipe Information
Each Indian pipe plant consists of one 3- to 9-inch (7.5 to 23 cm.) stem. Although you may notice small scales, no leaves are required because the plant does not photosynthesize. A white or pinkish-white, bell-shaped flower, which appears sometime between late spring and fall, is pollinated by small bumblebees . Once the bloom is pollinated, the “bell” creates a seed capsule that eventually releases tiny seeds into the wind. For obvious reasons, Indian pipe is also known as "ghost plant" – or sometimes "corpse plant". Although there is not an Indian pipe fungus, Indian pipe is a parasitic plant that survives by borrowing nutrients from certain fungi, trees and decaying plant matter. This complicated, mutually beneficial process allows the plant to survive.
Where does Indian Pipe Grow?
Indian pipe is found in dark, shady woods with rich, moist soil and plenty of decaying leaves and other plant matter. It is commonly found near dead stumps. Indian pipe is often found in near beech trees too, which also prefer damp, cool soil. The plant grows in most temperate regions of the United States, and is also found in northern parts of South America.
Indian Pipe Plant Uses
Indian pipe has an important role to play in the ecosystem, so please don’t pick it. (It will quickly turn black, so there’s really no point.) The plant may have once held medicinal qualities. Native Americans used the sap to treat eye infections and other ailments. Reportedly, Indian pipe plant is edible and tastes something like asparagus . Yet, eating the plant is not recommended, as it may be mildly toxic. Although the plant is interesting, it is best enjoyed in its natural environment. Bring a camera to capture this ghostly, glowing plant!
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.
Never buy seed starter pots again! Discover eco-friendly ways to make your own using old paper, packaging, and even fruit rinds and eggshells
By Melanie Griffiths Published 7 January 24
Want to know which hardy perennials will survive even in cold climate regions? We round up the super hardy perennials you need to grow
By Teo Spengler Published 7 January 24
Stay in touch.
- Job Opportunities
- Contact Future's experts
- Terms and Conditions
Gardening Know How is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site . © Future US, Inc. Full 7th Floor, 130 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036.
- Dear Deidre
- Visual Stories
MORE FROM THE SUN
- Deliver my newspaper
- Sun Vouchers
- The Sun Digital Newspaper
Everyone can see the man smoking the pipe – but only those with a genius-level IQ can find all 15 faces in 13 seconds
- Published : 17:48, 9 Jan 2024
- Updated : 18:27, 9 Jan 2024
- Published : Invalid Date,
YOU might just have a genius-level IQ if you can find all 15 faces hidden in the image below in less than 13 seconds.
Everyone can see the man smoking the pipe but only the sharpest of eyes can spot all the other characters in the photo.
This latest brainteaser is no walk in the park and should be approached with extra caution.
That's because even the most experienced puzzle solvers have been left tearing their hair out in frustration as they race against the clock.
But if you really put your mind to it, you are more than capable of overcoming this challenge.
You'll also need sharp eyes, strong cognitive skills and plenty of motivation.
Read more in Optical Illusions
Everyone can see the bear - but can you spot the hunter in 11 seconds?
If you spot all three bananas in 19 seconds, you may have 20/20 vision
And if you can find all 15 faces in 13 seconds or less, then you must have a genius level IQ.
In the image provided by Freshers Live, we can see a drawing of a man smoking a pipe.
Wearing a hat and smart uniform, the man is pictured blowing large clouds of smoke.
But hidden within the image are 14 other faces waiting to be found.
Most read in The Sun
James Morrison found partner hanged after pal couldn't contact her, coroner told
Sinead O'Connor cause of death confirmed six months after loss of music legend
Calum Best faces tense wait as he could be jailed for 3 years for club 'grope'
Mum, 31, dies 4 years after toddler son lost his life in caravan blaze
With nothing else in the picture besides the man and his pipe, you know exactly where to look.
But you'll also have to use your imagination and think outside the box - perhaps looking at the image from a different angle will help you tackle the challenge.
Regardless, it's now down to you to rise to the task.
If you are struggling, however, then we've provided the answers below.
If that was too easy and you're looking for something slightly more challenging, then have a go at solving some of our other optical illusions .
That includes guessing which is the red spoon in the black and white image above - and only the smartest can figure it out.
The utensils are all camouflaged in grayscale, forcing puzzle lovers to use their wits to decipher which one is the red spoon.
Alternatively, you may fancy testing how high your IQ is by finding ten hidden animals in this sketch of a creepy landscape.
The challenging optical illusion has left viewers dumbfounded - but could you be the one to solve it?
Read more on The Sun
Sinead O'Connor cause of death confirmed six months after loss of music legend
Ryanair launches new feature that will always get you the cheapest flights
And if that's still not hard enough for you, then try and spot the hidden dog amongst the pile of clothes in 15 seconds.
A pesky mutt has fooled several people but you might just have 20/20 vision if you can find it.
- Optical Illusion
- Quizzes puzzles and brain teasers
Newry: Suspected pipe bomb found in Drumgullion Avenue
- Published 7 days ago
A viable explosive device, suspected to be a pipe bomb, has been found at a house in Newry, police have confirmed.
It was discovered in Drumgullion Avenue, off the Armagh Road, during a security alert which began on Monday afternoon.
It is understood that the same house was targeted in a petrol bomb attack two-and-a-half months ago.
Two petrol bombs were thrown at the property on 18 October , which caused a small fire in the back garden.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze at the time and there were no reported injuries.
It is not yet known if the two attacks are connected but police said "inquiries are ongoing".
The latest incident began shortly before 14:50 GMT on Monday when officers received a report that a suspicious object had been left in Drumgullion Avenue.
Several homes were evacuated and police and Army technical officers were deployed to the street.
Heavy rain made the task of the security personnel more difficult during the operation.
The alert ended in the early hours of Tuesday when the suspected pipe bomb was recovered.
After residents were allowed to return to their homes, officers released a statement thanking local people for their patience and understanding.
"The object, which has been declared as a viable device, has been removed and taken away for further forensic examinations," a police inspector said.
The area's MP, Mickey Brady of Sinn Féin, said: "It's an absolute disgrace that people had to leave their homes at this time, because we thought those days were over.
"I lived through the conflict and I thought after the Good Friday Agreement we wouldn't have this anymore but unfortunately we still do."
On Monday, Social Democratic and Labour Party councillor Killian Feehan said residents had experienced "significant disruption".
He said it had forced people "to make emergency arrangements on New Year's Day - it's totally unacceptable".
"This is the last thing that anyone in this community wants or needs," Mr Feehan added.
On Monday evening, volunteers from the Meadow and Armagh Road Community Association (MARCA) opened their community centre at Whitegates Business Park for people who had been moved out of their homes.
It is understood that the facility was not needed but Sinn Féin councillor Geraldine Kearns thanked the volunteers for their efforts.
- Police Service of Northern Ireland
To revisit this article, select My Account, then View saved stories
Find anything you save across the site in your account
The Ghost of January 6th Haunts 2024
By Susan B. Glasser
Listen to this story.
The long shadow of January 6, 2021, hangs over this election. Three years after a mob of Americans stormed their own Capitol, seeking to block Joe Biden’s victory and keep Donald Trump in the White House, Biden and Trump each began 2024 with plans to make the tragic events of that day the centerpiece of his campaign. For the incumbent, it’s the rationale for his entire Presidency and the most compelling reason to give him a second term—a continuation of the “battle for the soul of America” that animated Biden’s run in 2020. For Trump, it’s the false battle cry around which he hopes to rally the MAGA mob once again. Already, he has proved that millions of his supporters are immune to the truth about January 6th. It will be an incredible act of political sorcery if he can ride his lies about the 2020 election and its violent aftermath back into the White House. And yet, as the year begins, his chances of doing so are better than even.
On Wednesday, in his first day back in the office this new year, the President hosted lunch for a group of American historians to advise him on how to frame the stakes of this election. One attendee, Heather Cox Richardson, a Civil War scholar whose latest book, “ Democracy Awakening ,” was Biden’s most conspicuous purchase during a day of post-Thanksgiving shopping, has called the visual of Trumpists parading the Confederate flag through Congress on January 6th “a gut-punch larger than any other moment in history.” Biden’s first campaign ad of the year , released on Thursday, leans heavily on the history theme, interspersing violent images of January 6th with old footage of civil-rights and suffragist marches, of Martin Luther King, Jr., and American Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima in the Second World War. “I’ve made the preservation of American democracy the central issue of my Presidency,” Biden says.
The challenge for Biden, though, is recapturing the visceral outrage of the insurrection—voters have, for years, been bombarded with horrific images of the riot and a steady drip of investigative revelations about how Trump helped conjure it into being—while imbuing it with new meaning and relevance. It is a necessary act of remembrance, but one that risks reminding Americans of how annoyed they are about a 2024 election that looks very likely to be a repeat of 2020. Is there anyone who truly relishes the prospect of Biden and Trump going at it once again, changing few minds while reinforcing for everyone how mired we remain in the division and rancor of that unpleasant year? No country would want to be stuck in such a doom loop.
But doom loop it looks to be. There is no moving on from that day so long as its instigator remains the leader of the Republican Party. In less than two weeks, Trump is on track to secure what could be the largest win in the history of the Iowa Republican caucuses. His lead is so wide that some expect him to sew up the Republican nomination by March. If and when Trump does, he will have accomplished it with a platform that doubles down on January 6th and his own sorry role in calling forth the mob. He is not denying the facts; he is outright rewriting them.
To his original Big Lie about the “rigged election” in 2020, Trump has added ever more lies. He now calls January 6th “a beautiful day” and the nearly thirteen hundred defendants arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol martyrs and “hostages .” In recent months as he has campaigned for his return to the White House, he has dangled pardons for the insurrectionists, to be issued “on Day 1” of his second term, and threatened instead to lock up the police who tried to defend the Capitol that day. “When people who love our country protest in Washington, they become hostages unfairly imprisoned for long portions of their life,” he told a rally in Iowa last month.
This rhetoric is likely only to escalate in the course of the campaign, as Trump faces both a federal and a state trial on criminal charges connected with his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. In fourteen states, meanwhile, there is pending litigation to keep Trump off the ballot on the ground that his role in inciting the events of January 6th makes him an “insurrectionist” as defined by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution—a matter soon to make its way to the Supreme Court since both Colorado and Maine have already disqualified him from their ballots. Trump’s legal team is also challenging the federal case against him, on the basis that his extraordinary post-2020-election acts were part of his official duties and thus covered by Presidential “immunity.” One thing we can pretty much say for sure about 2024 is that not a day will go by without the ghost of January 6th echoing loudly in our courtrooms and in our politics.
Another sad but inescapable truth is that Trump’s January 6th revisionism has proved even more politically salient with the Republican electorate than anyone could have predicted on the day itself. Remember all those panicky texts to the White House, begging Trump to call off the mob? “He is destroying his legacy,” Laura Ingraham warned Mark Meadows , Trump’s chief of staff. Even Don, Jr., begged Meadows to intervene: “He’s got to condemn this shit. Asap.” But Trump, it turns out, knew better. A Washington Post /University of Maryland survey published this week found that, in the intervening three years, the number of Republicans who believe Trump’s lies about a “rigged election” has, in fact, gone up. Today, only thirty-one per cent of Republicans believe that Biden is the “legitimate” President, down from thirty-nine per cent in late 2021. The number of Republicans, meanwhile, who believe that Trump personally bears “a great deal” or “a good amount” of responsibility for the events of January 6th has gone down from twenty-seven per cent two years ago to just fourteen per cent today. The right-wing media ecosystem has been so effective in pumping out Trump’s propaganda that the Post /Maryland poll found thirty-four per cent of Republicans now say they believe the bogus conspiracy theory that the F.B.I. itself was responsible for inciting the attack on the Capitol.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent years about Trump’s hold over the G.O.P., it’s this: where his voters go, eventually, even the Republican holdouts in Congress will follow. On Wednesday, Trump was endorsed by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer—barely two months after Trump sank Emmer’s candidacy for the House Speakership, with a social-media post warning that Emmer would be a “tragic mistake” and calling him a “Globalist RINO ” who was “totally out-of-touch” with Republican voters. One reason for Trump’s animus? Emmer had voted to certify Biden’s election on January 6th. “They always bend the knee,” the Times quoted Trump as saying of Emmer’s act of self-abasement.
Lesson learned: there is no political future in the G.O.P. without bowing to even Trump’s mightiest lies. The Republicans’ modern-day political alchemist has, in just three years, made 2020-election denialism—and its corollary set of falsehoods about January 6th—a core tenet in the Republican catechism. Who’s to say where this will all end up? The prospect of Trump restored as President, back in the Oval Office on January 20, 2025, pardoning himself and all the other “hostages” seems a lot more real than it did three years ago.
Usually, it’s the winning side that dictates how history will be written. No wonder Biden has started this campaign year by calling in the historians. ♦
New Yorker Favorites
The Titan submersible was “ an accident waiting to happen .”
Notes from Prince Harry’s ghostwriter .
The best jokes of 2023 .
What happened to San Francisco, really ?
The novelist whose inventions went too far .
Why 2023 was the year of Ozempic .
Listening to Taylor Swift in prison .
Sign up for our daily newsletter to receive the best stories from The New Yorker .
News & Politics
By Masha Gessen
By Evan Osnos
By Jessica Winter