|Indian Pipes, Ghost Plants, in bloom.|
|Corpse Plants straightening out after pollination.|
The flowers do not last very long if they are picked or even bruised. They appear to decompose rapidly upon being disturbed, melting away and darkening in a gelatinous mess that gives them the alternate names of Ice Plants, Corpse Plants, or Death Plants.
These plants have been used in various fashions by people. The Cherokee sometimes used the pulverized roots to treat convulsions, epilepsy, and fits. Colonists later on used them in similar fashion resulting in their being called Fit Plants or Convulsion Weeds. Colonists also learned to use the plant juice for eye problems as the Cherokee did, giving them the other name of Eyebright. The crushed plant also was applied to warts and bunions.
Other tribes such as the Mohegan believed that this plant could treat colds and fevers. The Cree chewed it for toothaches, the Thompson would treat sores and saw it as a sign that where they were found would be good for foraging mushrooms. Indian Pipes contain glycosides and are considered toxic these days.
These are indeed strange but wonderful plants. Their haunting appearance in dark woods may seem eerie, but just goes to show you the complexity of the natural world.