E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Monotropa uniflora L.
ghost pipe
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)
(Previously in Monotropaceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Rosemary Taylor  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #25686)

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Distribution of Monotropa uniflora
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Parasitic species of moist to mesic forests. Distinctive totally white plants with a solitary white flower, turning black as it ages.

Species Information

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Perennial herb from a fleshy root mass; parasites on mycorrhizal fungi associated with trees; "stems" many, erect, simple, 5-30 cm tall, waxy-white, blackening with age; persistent after seed dispersal; without chlorophyll.
Scale-like, linear or lanceolate to egg-shaped, up to 10 mm long; entire or somewhat wavy-margined.
Inflorescence a terminal, solitary flower, curved to one side or even drooping, becoming erect in fruit; calyces and corollas similar; corollas narrowly bell-shaped, 15-20 mm long, the petals 5, pouch-like at the base, oblong spoon-shaped, more or less hairy within; calyces of 2 to 4 bract-like sepals or lacking; stamens shorter than the corolla; styles 2-5 mm wide; stigmas discoid-lobed.
Capsules, erect, nearly globe-shaped, 5-7 mm long.
Stem and leaves can be considered part of the inflorescence.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to moist forests in the lowland and montane zones; frequent in extreme SW BC, infrequent in SC BC, and rare in C BC; N to SE AK, E to NF, and S to CA, MX, and FL; Central America; Asia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Monotropa uniflora

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 0 455 1926
Slope Gradient (%) 0 19 150
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
15 240 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
2 4 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(28), CWH(45), ESSF(4), ICH(46), IDF(6), MS(2), PP(1), SBS(13)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant, submontane to montane, Asian and transcontinental North American saprophyte. Occurs on fresh to moist, nitrogen-medium soils in montane boreal, wet temperate, and cool mesothermal climates; its occurrence decreases with increasing latitude. Occurs sporadically in closed-canopy coniferous forests (most common on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands) on water-shedding and water-receiving sites. Characteristic of mycorrhiza-rich Mor and acidic Moder humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Monotropa brittonii Small

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References