Herb: Indian Pipe

Latin name: Monotropa uniflora

Family: Pyrolaceae (Wintergreen Family)

Medicinal use of Indian Pipe:

An infusion of the root is antispasmodic, hypnotic, nervine, sedative, tonic. It is a good remedy for spasms, fainting spells and various nervous conditions. It has been given to children who suffer from fits, epilepsy and convulsions. The plant was used by some native North American Indian tribes to treat eye problems, the stem was bruised and the clear fluid of the stems applied to the eyes. The juice from the stems has also been used to treat nervous irritability, including fits and spasms. It has been suggested in the past as a possible opium substitute. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat colds and fevers. The crushed plant has been rubbed on bunions and warts in order to destroy them. A poultice of the plant has been applied to sores that are difficult to heal. The flowers have been chewed in order to bring relief from toothache. Water extracts of the plant are bactericidal.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Damp coniferous woods in hills and mountains all over Japan. Dark rich woodlands in N. America.

Edible parts of Indian Pipe:

The whole plant can be cooked. It is tasteless if eaten raw, but has a taste like asparagus when it is cooked.

Propagation of the herb:

This is going to be an exceedingly difficult plant to propagate. The seed will need to be sown close to its host plant so one way would be to sow it in the leaf litter under established beech or coniferous trees. Alternatively, you could try sowing the seed in a cold frame in a pot that already contains a potential host plant. If successful, grow the young plant on in the cold frame for a couple of years before planting it out close to an established beech or coniferous tree.

Cultivation of Indian Pipe:

Damp coniferous woods in hills and mountains all over Japan. Dark rich woodlands in N. America.

Known hazards of Monotropa uniflora:

The plant contains several glycosides and is possibly toxic.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.