In early August I was out hiking along the Middle Fork Vermilion and stumbled across an isolated clump of Pinesap (Monotropa hypopitys) just breaching the surface. Without visiting the ISM, via online this appears to be a new county level record for Vermilion County, Illinois. Cool!
Pinesap is a saprophytic plant lacking chlorophyll which parasitizes some mycorrhizal fungal species within the forests organic layer. This plant is notorious for growing out of quite the acidic of soils, which is interesting being nestled within a series of loess ridge tops (loess is normally slightly alkaline). A generic soil sample from the Pinesap population found in Macon County had a soil pH of 4.67….
Dave, Christine, and I set out the following weekend to check this Pinesap out in full flower. In doing so, we also found in flower the much more common single flowered ghostly sister species, Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora). These were not found with the Pinesap, but scattered within the surrounding vicinity.