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The plants of the Indian Pipe family are saprophytes, meaning that they have no chlorophyll and they feed on dead organic matter in the soil. They are often white, yellow, brownish, or even candy-striped red and white. There are 2 to 6 separate sepals, 3 to 6 petals, sometimes united, and 6 to 12 stamens. The ovary is positioned superior and consists of 4 to 6 united carpels (syncarpous) forming an equal number of chambers. It matures as a capsule. Worldwide, there are 12 genera and 30 species. North American genera are listed below. The Indian Pipe family is now considered a subfamily of the Heath Family. Be sure to read about other plants lacking chlorophyll in the Broomrape and Orchid families, plus Cuscuta in the Morning Glory Family.
Key Words: Saprophytic plants with regular flowers.
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