Diversity: A relatively small group of 10 genera and 12 species that is clearly related to the Ericaceae and often placed within that family as a subfamily (see your text and Thorne's Superorder Dilleniane).
Distribution: Throughout temperate parts of the World with extensions into the tropics at higher elevations, 2 genera with 3 species in Texas.
These plants are easily recognized in that they differ from most other
plants by the absence of chlorophyll and - at first glance -
the appearance of fungi. They are fleshy herbs that have taken
fungal association typical of the Ericaceae to an extreme. Taxa of the Monotropaceae are myco-heterotrophic
in that they use a
intermediate to obtain the photosynthetic product of other
plants. Thus, taxa of the Monotropaceae follow a fungal life
most of their time underground only emerging to reproduce via flowers
a structure similar to that of the Ericaceae and fleshy shoots
reduced, scale-like leaves.
|The three Texas species: Pterospora andromeda (pinedrops - left) and Monotropa uniflora (Indian pipe - right), and M. hypopithys (far right)|
Hemitomes congestum - 'Coneplant' Northwestern US/Canada
Allotropa virgata -
'Sugarstick', this plant
from Washington State
More information on the Monotropaceae