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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Indian Pipes and Indian Tobacco

 
Today I have two completely unrelated plants, but with common names that tie them together. It can serve as another illustration of the problems with common names.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who thinks that common names should be abolished. They are colorful and evocative, but they don't tell us how plants are botanically related.

First we have Indian Pipes, Monotropa uniflora. You can see why they get the name. Each stem looks like a little pipe. These are very common in temperate areas. They used to have their own Family, but they've now been placed in the heath family, due to genetic testing. Each stalk has one flower.

They have no cholorophyll, and are parasites of fungus. You'll find them in rich dark woods.

indian pipes

Of course, you are going to want something to put into the pipe, so we have Indian Tobacco, Lobelia inflata. This plant was burned as part of spiritual ceremonies by some Native American tribes. It's a lobelia, yes like your garden lobelia, or cardinal flower. The flowers are all very similar in shape. This picture is of the seed pods. You can easily see why it is "inflata."

indian tobacco seed pods


Of course, there is Indian paintbrush, Indian plantain, or Indian turnip. Again, no botanical relation to each other. Just more fun common names.

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20 comments:

Nikki said...

Hello! Thank you for your comment :)

Great post! You write about a lot of interesting things. I recently bought a book of flowers since I long to be able to take walks and name everything around me!

You have a lovely blog, which I'm now following. I wanted to say too that you sound so lovely and friendly :) It was nice to spend time on your blog!

Nikki – inspire nordic

Janna said...

I love common names of plants, although I do realize that they are limiting (and sometimes misleading). Sometimes though, they evoke poetry.

Robyn Campbell said...

I enjoyed your post. So interesting! Those names are really fun. The pics are fantastic! Indian Pipes is an awesome plant. I wonder if we have any. I am going to look as I walk through our woods.

Visiting from A to Z. :-)

Jack Edwards Poetry said...

An interesting post :)

All the best,
Jack

michelle said...

Aha! So you are the sharkbyte who is trying to get around to every blogger... that is so cool, and a challenge within a challenge... so kudos to you!
Informative post!
Nice to meet you... *waves*
Enjoy the rest of the A to Z Challenge!

Don't unplug your hub. said...

Good afternoon! Just stopped by.

Andrea Coventry said...

I have seen those, but never knew what they were called!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It is one of 8 that I entered this month. I do have some A to Z posts in the midst of the other stuff, as well. I am just behind from being sick since Easter. :-D

http://montessoriwriter.blogspot.com

Joanna said...

I've seen those Indian Piples growing in the woods. They look like ghost flowers. Thanks for visiting my blog Up on Haliburton Hill. I'm enjoying yours a lot.

Joanna

Nancy Claeys said...

What great finds -- you have a very good eye for finding the elusive, don't you? :) Lovely captures.

Catherine Stine said...

Love Indian Pipes. I have painted them more than once.

Ann said...

the only one I'm familiar with is Indian paint brush. We had them all over when I was a kid

Lynn Proctor said...

fascinating information!!

James R Tate said...

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you make it to all the blogs.
Tate's Other Side.

rainfield61 said...

A plant without cholorophyll seems like human without blood.

Fareeda Alhady said...

Nice of you to drop by my blog...
Yes J for Jonker Street is a follow thru from E for Mista Ee. I seem to have hit on serial short stories in this challenge...some Turkish tales too...
Lovely pictures. You maybe interested to know about the National Parks of Malaysia.
http://www.geographia.com/malaysia/nationalparks.htm

Jean said...

I remember Indian Tobacco as a kid in Northern NC. Thanks for the reminder!

Donna Sexton said...

It does get confusing with all those similar names referring to such dissimilar plants.

betchai said...

i am more familiar with common names, though sometimes i do wonder how they got their names.

Dina Thanki said...

Lovely post, I don't know the name of a lot of flowers, I just know they are pretty :) These Indian Pipes do look beautiful though

RNSANE said...

You are really so good at plant identification but, of course, you've been at it a long time. I can only do the common flowers, especially those bright tropical types.

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