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Indian Pipe

    Scientific Names

    Indian Pipe
    • Monotropa uniflora L.
    • Heath family

    Common Names

    ivyBird’s nest
    ivyBird’s nest root
    ivyConvulsion weed
    ivyCorpse plant
    ivyFairy smoke
    ivyFit plant
    ivyFit root
    ivyFit root plant
    ivyGhost flower
    ivyIce plant
    ivyNest root
    ivyPipe plant
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    Parts Usually Used

    Root, whole plant
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Indian pipe is a unique perennial plant without chlorophyll; a mass of dark, brittle, saprophytic roots produces the ivory-white, waxy stem growing 4-10 inches high and covered with scaly bracts. The stem is topped by a single, nodding, white, pipe-bowl-shaped or bell-shaped flower which turns black when bruised. The whole plant is translucent white. Scalelike leaves nearly absent. Blooms June to October.
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    Where Found

    Grows in dark, rich woods in the temperate and warmer parts of North America. Too scarce to harvest. Maine to the Carolinas, westward to Missouri.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Antispasmodic, febrifuge, nervine, sedative, tonic
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    Once called “Ice plant” because it resembles frozen jelly, and “melts” when handled. Also called “Bird’s Nest”, in reference to the shape of the entangled root fibers.
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    A good remedy (root tea) for spasms, fainting spells, epilepsy, lockjaw, convulsions, sedative, muscle spasms, St. Vitus dance, and various nervous conditions and may be helpful in remittent and intermittent fever, takes the place of quinine and opium. Mixed with fennel seed, it makes a good eyewash, bunions, warts, gonorrhea, bladder problems, and vaginal douche for vaginal and uterine inflammations. The plant was soaked in rose water, then a cloth was soaked in the mixture and applied to the eyes. The roots are known to be a powerful emetic and one used by Native Americans.

    Native Americans drank the tea for aches and pains due to colds.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    Infusion: use 1 tsp. Indian pipe root and 1 tsp. fennel seed with 1 pint boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes and strain.

    The powdered root: 1/2 tsp., 2-3 times per day.
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    Safety undetermined; possibly toxic. Contains several glycosides.
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    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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