The Indian Pipe Plant and Grandpa Blevins

by on March 8th, 2015
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Finding an Indian Pipe Plant while vacationing with my family this summer brought back fond memories of past years when I was a young boy. Visiting my grandparents in Arkansas for a few weeks each summer before school started were some of the happiest times of my life. Life was slow and easy. We woke up when we wanted to although grandma was usually up at the crack of dawn. While grandpa and I ate breakfast grandma would pack us a lunch and fill our water jug for the day that lay before us. My grandparents owned 120 acres and grandpa and I would explore all day long. It was wild hilly country filled with brush and trees. What an adventure. He pointed out the different animals and birds we would see. I learned to know the trees that grew on his land as well as the plants. If we happened to discover a Indian Pipe Plant while exploring we felt lucky. Grandpa would tell me that finding the ghost plant as he liked to call it was a sign that the up coming school year would be a good one for me. Grandpa Blevins died in 1971 but I still remember many of the things he taught me about the Indian Pipe Plant.

The formal name for the Indian Pipe Plant is Monotropa uniflora. Ghost plant as my grandpa use to call it is just one of the nicknames given to the plant. Other names include Corpse Plant, Birds Nest, Pipe Plant, Fairy Smoke and Dutchman’s Pipe.

Grandpa said that the Indians were known to use the plant when they were not feeling well. He told about reading a old book which listed some other uses for the plant. It was said to have a calming effect and could help to relieve spasms and other conditions. Grandpa said there were other uses for the plant but like a host of earlier remedies used by those who were close to nature much knowledge had been lost. He had also heard that the plant could be harmful to humans so we always enjoyed looking at the Indian Pipe Plant but never picked it.

Grandpa and I would look for the plant from the early part of June all the way through October. Grandpa said that it grew all over the world. We would usually find the plant in the woods around a rotten tree stump after a good hard rain. I very much enjoyed my summers with Grandpa Blevins and miss him. Especially when I find something that reminds me of him such as a chance encounter with a Indian Pipe Plant.

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