PINE SAP FALSE BEECHDROPS YELLOW BIRD'SNEST
(Hypopitis Hypopitis; Monolropa Hypopitis of Gray) Indian-pipe
Flowers - Tawny, yellow,ecru, brownish pink, reddish, or bright
crimson, fragrant, about 1/2 in. long; oblong bell-shaped; borne
in a one-sided, terminal, slightly drooping raceme, becoming
erect after maturity. Scapes: Clustered from a dense mass of
fibrous roots; 4 to 12 in. tall, scaly bracted, the
bractlets resembling the sepals. Leaves: None.
Preferred Habitat - Dry woods, especially under fir, beech, and
Flowering Season - June-October.
Distribution - Florida and Arizona, far northward into British
Possessions. Europe and Asia.
Branded a sinner, through its loss of leaves and honest green
coloring matter (chlorophyll), the pine sap stands among the
disreputable 'gang' of thieves that includes its next of kin the
Indian-pipe, the broom-rape, dodder, coral-root, and beech-drops
(q.v.). Degenerates like these, although members of highly
respectable, industrious, virtuous families, would appear to be
as low in the vegetable kingdom as any fungus, were it not for
the flowers they still bear. Petty larceny, no greater than the
foxglove's at first, then greater and greater thefts, finally
lead to ruin, until the pine-sap parasite either sucks its food
from the roots of the trees under which it takes up its abode, or
absorbs, like a ghoulish saprophyte, the products of vegetable
decay. A plant that does not manufacture its own dinner has no
need of chlorophyll and leaves, for assimilation of crude food
can take place only in those cells which contain the vital green.
This substance, universally found in plants that grub in the soil
and literally sweat for their daily bread, acts also as a
moderator of respiration by its absorptive influence on light,
and hence allows the elimination of carbon dioxide to go on in
the cells which contain it. Fungi and these degenerates which
lack chlorophyll usually grow in dark, shady woods.
Within each little fragrant pine-sap blossom a fringe of hairs,
radiating from the style, forms a stockade against short-tongued
insects that fain would pilfer from the bees. As the plant grows
old, whatever charm it had in youth disappears, when an
unwholesome mold overspreads its features.
SCARLET PIMPERNEL; POOR MAN'S or SHEPHERD'S WEATHER-GLASS; RED
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