At first glance it looked like a form of fungus as it is all white. I gently flipped over the top part and it looked like a flower of some sort. There were no gills like a fungus would have but no leaves like a flower. Pure white, so no photosynthesis going on? What could it be. I Google searched it and found out that it is called and Indian Pipe flower, also known as a corpse flower. It is an extremely fragile plant that if you move it, cut it or if you are rough with it the plant will turn almost instantly black (thus the name of corpse flower).
It is not a rare plant, although for me it is as I have never in all my years seen it in my travels! However I don't believe it to be a common flower either. It has a very light scent and the bees seem to like it.
Indian Pipe probably received its name because Native Americans used the sap for medicinal purposes, including treatment of eye infections. Indian Pipe is white because it completely lacks chlorophyll, the green pigment so crucial to photosynthesis. Without chlorophyll, Indian Pipe can't produce energy and food as green plants do. To survive, tiny threads of fungus, called hyphae, extend throughout the soil. The relationship between fungi and trees allows each to focus on what it does best. Trees, with their enormous above ground surface area of leaves, gather energy from sunlight and use it to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugars and other carbohydrates.
This crucial relationship between fungi and trees is what allows the Indian Pipe flower to exploit this opportunity. An Indian Pipe plant exists for most of the year as a root mass under the ground that is covered with a dense mat of fungal hyphae. Like trees, Indian Pipe convinces the fungus to feed it minerals through the hyphae. However, Indian Pipe goes further. Somehow, it convinces the fungus to also give up sugars.
The sugars Indian Pipe gets weren't produced by the fungi. They came from the tree with which the fungus is associated. So, in effect, the Indian Pipe is parasitizing both the fungus and the tree.
By tapping into the relationship between the tree and the fungus, the Indian Pipe gets a free ride. It doesn't have to produce carbohydrates or find minerals.
Biologists are still trying to figure out why the fungus and the tree go along with Indian Pipe's game. Usually, when parasitic creatures exploit a host, the host fights back.
Within a few days, the root mass sends up a white stalk and then flowers. When the flowers have been pollinated by insects, the Indian Pipe plant releases tens of thousands of seeds, which are dispersed long distance by wind.
What an interesting little plant on our homestead. I think it will take me years to find all the interesting and hidden gems on the property.