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Mycotrophic plant Monotropa hypopitys

Mycotrophic plant Monotropa hypopitys

C028/9733

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Credit

PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Pinesap, once called a 'saphrophytic plant', now more correctly known to be a mycotrophic plant. Photographed in Pennsylvania near Hawk Mountain. This is the September form, the Spring form is paler. It is a non photosynthetic plant which gets its energy via a relationship with fungi. It used to be thought these were saphrotrophic fungi (utilising decaying matter) but it is now thought the plant is parasitising mycorrhizal fungi attached to the roots of larger host plants such as pines. It co-opts the nutrients provided by the fungi and uses energy provided by the tree, giving nothing in return. It is sometimes called an epiparasitic plant on that basis. It is a myco-heterotrophic plant. All members of the Monotropoideae subfamily of the Ericaceae (Heath) family are mycotrophs.

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