Sometimes, walking through the woods can be an unsettling experience. The damp ground yields a little too much under my feet, releasing the smell of rotting plant matter and thick soil. The quiet space gives way to a sense of being…watched. On days like this, I find myself drawn to some of the more macabre aspects of our natural world. And of course, I keep my eyes peeled for ghosts. Not the spooky, supernatural variety, but the eerie, peculiar little plant called a ghost pipe, also commonly called an Indian pipe.
The ghost pipe is a part of the wild blueberry family. It is native to our area and can be found in unusual bunches in temperate regions of North America. It pops up from the damp leaf litter of the deciduous forest floor and is a startling white. Generally rare in occurrence, ghost pipes have also gone by the ghoulish nicknames corpse plant and death flower, as well as the much more intriguing name: fairy smoke.