Indian pipe


: a white, waxy perennial herb (Monotropa uniflora of the family Ericaceae, the heath family) of Asia and North America that lacks chlorophyll, has leaves reduced to scales and a stem terminated by a single bell-shaped flower, and turns black following seed maturation

Note: The roots of the Indian pipe contain mycorrhizal fungi from which it acquires nutrients which the fungi's mycelium has obtained by invading the roots of nearby trees (such as beech and pine).

Illustration of Indian pipe

Illustration of indian pipe

Examples of Indian pipe in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Soni soon got a call from an Indian pipe fitter. Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Indian pipe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1818, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Indian pipe was circa 1818

Dictionary Entries Near Indian pipe

Cite this Entry

“Indian pipe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

Indian pipe

: a waxy white leafless woodland herb with a single nodding bell-shaped flower on each stem that does not make its own food but lives on dead or decaying organic matter

More from Merriam-Webster on Indian pipe

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