Some are yellow, flowering in the spring. Some flower in late summer and are pink or red. They are never green.
I came across several clumps of pink stalks in the deep shade on the hillside.
|Pinesap, Monotropa hypopitys, summer edition.|
The flowers are white, shading to purplish, with four hairy petals and a long central column.
They have no chlorophyll and don't convert sunlight to sugars. They get their nutrients third-hand, from the mushrooms that depend on the trees spreading their greenery far overhead.
Along the pathway I had seen several large mushrooms, broken and nibbled by slugs. These pinesaps are parasitic on the mushrooms. And the mushrooms live in a symbiotic relationship with the evergreens that do the work of reaching out to the sun.
|The flowers start out bent over, and straighten up as they mature.|
The plant consists of a perennial mass of roots which in season sends up a flower head; the pink stalk is considered to be a part of the flower raceme.
|The fruits are round capsules, here pink, like the stems. (Flash used here.)|
|Ripe capsules. The stigma is yellow in new flowers, turning purple as it ripens.|
The seed capsules dry to dark brown; I saw a few, but the photos were too dark to be useful.
One stalk had broken off: I brought it home, all rumpled and half dry, and looked at it under the microscope:
|Dying flowers, one without petals, showing its ovary and stigma, and the stamens, already brown and dry. And hairy.|
|Two ripe seed capsules.|