Indian Pipe, seen above, is a flower commonly mistaken for a forest-dwelling fungus—and I was one of the believers until I got ready to post this picture, taken in the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge near Wells, Maine.
Turns out, this ghostly flower (sometimes called “ghost plant” or “corpse plant") lacks chlorophyll, and therefore can’t make energy from sunlight. Instead, it grows as a parasite, supported by a number of fungi that co-exist with forests in temperate regions of North and South America, and in Asia.
The other pictures really are fungi, just a sample of the many kinds to be found at Rachel Carson. The refuge is actually a much bigger project than the area that’s open to visitors; when it is complete, it will cover nearly 50 miles of southern Maine coastline from York to Kittery, protecting tidal marshes and estuaries and the birds that use them.
The main visitor area, near the headquarters in Wells, has been a frequent stop for us on visits to Maine. It includes both pine forest and tidal marsh areas, with a well-marked 1-mile path, well marked with information. There are four other trails at different sites within the refuge. The trails are self-guided but National Fish & Wildlife Service interns provide interpretive programs in the summer.
For more information, click HERE