Ghost Flower

I have been fascinated by these ethereal flowers for a long time. On hikes in the Adirondacks, I would often find large clusters of them growing deep in the north woods. I’ve also seen them in nearby parks, but this year is the first time I’ve seen them in my yard.

The cluster in my woods has four plants. This is the detail of a blossom shot from below. They tend to be very ephemeral, springing up after dry weather when there is sufficient moisture. After a very dry start to summer here, recent rains inspired them to shoot up overnight, growing to full size within a few days.

As suggested by its name, these pale plants aren’t typical green, and don’t have chlorophyll. Instead, they have a pale white ghostly appearance, with parts of the plant appearing translucent. They have a complex relationship as parasites where they feed from trees via fungi that act as intermediates. They will be gone within a week, but I hope they return next year so I can again admire their strange beauty.