Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Crystal Orchid

Cheilotheca macrocarpa (Andrews) Y. L. Chou


鹿蹄草科 Pyrolaceae 水晶蘭屬 Monotropastrum

1 Species ID Suggestions

AlexKonig 9 years ago
Indian Pipe
Monotropa uniflora Monotropa uniflora

Sign in to suggest organism ID


craigwilliams 9 years ago

Yeah, the blue thing is a dodgy characteristic to base an id on. Colour is often not reliable as a way of IDing plant species.

craigwilliams 9 years ago

Edit. Monotropastrum humile seems to have an Asian distribution. It's certainly present in China and japan too. Here's the description from Flora of China:

and here's the description for M.uniflora:

I've got too much of a headache to play spot the difference at the moment!

AlexKonig 9 years ago

at both are nothing blue, i think your right !! was a guess for me, i'm not home/familiar at/wth plants, thanks craig

AlexKonig 9 years ago

for me the 1 picture works fine

craigwilliams 9 years ago

I don't think the name Monotropa uniflora is in question Alex. There just happens to be a species in Taiwan (& elsewhere perhaps?) that is sufficiently similar to have been named as several different varieties of M.uniflora and is now considered to be in the genus Monotropastrum.
Photos of Monotropastrum humile on the internet show a blue disc like stigma (i presume) in the centre of the flower, whereas Monotropa uniflora has a whitish one. This is the kind of suspect identification that research on the internet offers at the moment- sorry! Some websites, including the Flora of Taiwan, say M.uniflora is also present in Taiwan. I can't see the first photo here (could you re upload it Eilif?) & in the second it's not possible to see up inside the flower. Did your spot have this blue disc Eilif?
I found this cool photo of the Monotropastrum setting fruit, where it looks like a pair of eyes on stalks!!! (scroll down here:

AlexKonig 9 years ago

@ craig- or better ask: isn't it the indian pipe ?? But the crystal orchid !!

AlexKonig 9 years ago

@ craig-- is Monotropa uniflora then an old name/synoym or not the right ?? and that taxonomy hokee-kokee do i also have at the fungi, awful!!

craigwilliams 9 years ago

Cheilotheca macrocarpa is a synonym. Monotropastrum humile is the accepted name:

All together now: "Ho, the taxonomic hokee-kokee, Ho, the taxonomic hokee-kokee, Ho, the taxonomic hokee-kokee, knees bend, arm stretch ra ra ra"

Lovely little plant! Is 'Crystal Orchid' a local common name? It never ceases to amaze me how bogus and misleading common names for plants can be.

JenniferOngko 9 years ago

funtastic ! ,

julia11cc 9 years ago


EilifWang 9 years ago

to Alex,

The following is what I found in local professional web

Monotropastrum humile (D. Don) H. Hara
Cheilotheca humilis (D. Don) H. Keng
Cheilotheca humilis var. glaberrima (Hara) Keng & C. F. Hsieh
Cheilotheca humilis var. pubescens (K. F. Wu) C. Ling
阿里山水晶蘭 Cheilotheca macrocarpa (Andrews) Y. L. Chou
Cheilotheca pubescens (K. F. Wu) Y. L. Chou
Monotropa humilis D. Don
Monotropa uniflora var. pentadactyla Makino
Monotropa uniflora var. pentapetala Makino
Monotropa uniflora var. tripetala Makino
Monotropanthum ampullaceum Andres
Monotropastrum arisanarum Andres
Monotropastrum baranovii Y. L. Chang & Y. L. Chou
Monotropastrum clarkei Andres
Monotropastrum globosum Andres ex H. Hara
Monotropastrum globosum var. baranovii (Y. L. Chang & Y. L. Chou) Y. C. Zhu
Monotropastrum globosum var. pentapetalum (Makino) Honda
Monotropastrum globosum var. tripetalum (Makino) Honda
Monotropastrum humile var. glaberrimum H. Hara
Monotropastrum humile var. tripetalum (Makino) H. Hara
Monotropastrum lungchuanense K. F. Wu
Monotropastrum macrocarpum Andres
Monotropastrum pubescens K. F. Wu
Monotropastrum tschanbaischanicum var. baranovii (Y. L. Chang & Y. L. Chou) Y. L. Chou

Hans.New 9 years ago

wow, that´s really great. Never seen such one.

AlexKonig 9 years ago

hi eilifwang, are you sure you dont confuse the plant, because under you name (common and latin) i dont find much, but it looks as the indian pipe !!

KatCuff 9 years ago

That is very cool!

EilifWang 9 years ago

There is another kind in Taiwan actually pinkish! I have not spotted yet!!

SarahWhitt 9 years ago

An amazing find! :)

AlexKonig 9 years ago

Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult (wikipedia)

AlexKonig 9 years ago

amazing nice find,, it's relativ rare !! this plant feed of fungi !!

Spotted by

新北市 (New Taipei City), New Taipei City (新北市), Taiwan

Spotted on Feb 18, 2012
Submitted on Feb 18, 2012

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors
join Project Noah Team

Join the Project Noah Team