Indian Pipe Wildflowers Revisited

Indian Pipe Wildflowers photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

Photographing butterflies necessitates lots of time in the field. Searching, scouring, and even cajoling those reluctant winged beauties to leave their hiding places, and allow themselves to be photographed. Scores of hours are spent working the same trails. Trails that you know and enable you to anticipate where you will score good butterfly images.

You become familiar with those favorite trails. Your eyes know them. When something ‘different’ appears, those same trained eyes notice it. Spring in Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania brings these ‘What is that!’ wildflowers. I spot them in a nanosecond. All else is browns, evergreen greens and nascent soft greens. Indian pipe is white, white, white. You’re almost tempted to have pity on these tiny little waifs, as in ‘Who or what has done this to you?’

They’re kind of friends of the Spring hiker, and their appearance each year, along wet trail margins, is comforting, reassuring. They force you to remember your old high school Biology: Plants use their chlorophyll to produce food. Find a plant like these, Indian pipes, and know that they must have some alternative method of manufacturing carbohydrates (food). How do they do that? They grow where they have found rotting plant material, and they intake those newly freed materials, converting them to usable food. ‘Nough said?

I smile when I see Indian pipe. They look so delicate, fragile. There they are, out there in the wild, not so delicate or fragile. Independent, earnest and successful. They also get an ‘A’ for causing the casual hiker to delve through sooo much stored in the head Biology.

Jeff