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Monotropa uniflora - L.

Common Name Indian Pipe
Family Ericaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards The plant contains several glycosides and is possibly toxic[222].
Habitats Damp coniferous woods in hills and mountains all over Japan[1, 58]. Dark rich woodlands in N. America[21].
Range E. Asia - Japan. Most areas of N. America.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade
Monotropa uniflora Indian Pipe

Monotropa uniflora Indian Pipe


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Monotropa uniflora is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is in flower from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.



Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses:

The whole plant can be cooked[177]. It is tasteless if eaten raw, but has a taste like asparagus when it is cooked[105].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Antispasmodic;  Febrifuge;  Hypnotic;  Nervine;  Odontalgic;  Ophthalmic;  Sedative;  
Tonic;  Warts.

An infusion of the root is antispasmodic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, tonic[21, 192, 222]. It is a good remedy for spasms, fainting spells and various nervous conditions[207]. It has been given to children who suffer from fits, epilepsy and convulsions[257]. The 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[213, 257]. The juice from the stems has also been used to treat nervous irritability, including fits and spasms[192]. It has been suggested in the past as a possible opium substitute[192]. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat colds and fevers[257]. The crushed plant has been rubbed on bunions and warts in order to destroy them[257]. A poultice of the plant has been applied to sores that are difficult to heal[257]. The flowers have been chewed in order to bring relief from toothache[257]. Water extracts of the plant are bactericidal[222].

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

We have very little information on this plant but it should be hardy in this country. It is likely to require shady woodland conditions in a humus-rich moist soil, It is a saprophytic plant, quite devoid of chlorophyll and depending totally on its host plant for nutrient[1].


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This is going to be an exceedingly difficult plant to propagate. The seed will need to be sown close to its host plant so one way would be to sow it in the leaf litter under established beech or coniferous trees[1]. Alternatively, you could try sowing the seed in a cold frame in a pot that already contains a potential host plant. If successful, grow the young plant on in the cold frame for a couple of years before planting it out close to an established beech or coniferous tree.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Karen Bergeron   Fri Jan 12 2007

Altnature.com Video - Indian Pipe Plant Taking pictures of Indian Pipe Plant in the woods

Steve   Tue Aug 21 2007

Good stuff... thanks! On this page, http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Monotropa+uniflora the link to the permaculture.info project you use has been broken. The project no longer uses a cgi script, but rather uses a php script instead. So the proper link would be: http://permaculture.info/index.php?search=Monotropa+uniflora Have a nice day!

josh   Sun Aug 23 2009

i found a lot of it growing in my grandparents woods it must be rare if this is the first time i ever saw one

   Jul 12 2017 12:00AM

I have been finding this plant for close to a decade. It actually does not have a host plant but a host fungi. Most likely host is in the genus russulaceae, but it's possible that there are others. Because of this plants delicate relationship with its environment (it is a parasitic mycoheterotroph) it should not be harvested except for where VERY abundant and even then only in small quantities. Over the course of time in the colonial united states, we have seem several native plants be harvested nearly to the point of extinction. While the medicinal uses of this plant are numerous, its rarity, beauty, and potential for over harvesting mean that we should admire it as we find it, and only collect a small amount if there is a sincere need for its use.

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