Take a walk around the Galena Creek Recreation Area, and you might notice this odd-looking, red plant. They're starting to pop up around the park, and often they are found next to last year's stalks!
Pinedrops are a peculiar species in that they do not contain Chlorophyll - the pigment that makes plants green and allows them to photosynthesize. This means that Pinedrops must steal their nutrients from surrounding species to survive; in other words, they are a parasitic plant. When the plant initially sprouts, it first "digs" into the soil in search of a "host" - typically fungi and the roots of nearby trees - and then shoots upward to begin bearing fruit. This is why Pinedrops are found in close proximity to larger species such as pine trees.
Pinedrops can be identified by their tall, skinny frames and bulb-like fruit. They can be found growing throughout the park between June and August, though the strongest stalks make it through winter and are still common even this time of year. Come for a walk around the Galena Recreation Area and see how many Pinedrops you can find!
This blog is managed by the staff and volunteers of Galena Creek Visitor Center. We write about parts of the natural world that we find fascinating and want to teach others about, as well as keeping you updated on the Visitor Center and park. If you want to learn more, please sign up for our monthly newsletter, where we share upcoming events, updates on the ecology of the park, and highlights from each month.