In the pine stands ridge of Virttaankangas walkers will notice a strange pale plant that raises the question: does it belong to the plant or mushroom family. It is call Dutchman’s pipe and it does not have any green leaves but pale yellow flowers. Usually it is seen in dry pine forest in small groups.
Its scientific name means it grows under pine and while it does not always appear at familiar places sites, the next humid and warm growing season can reveal dozens. It blooms only at the end of August and in September when most other forest crops have already flowered.
The Dutchman’s pipe especially grows in cowberry and heather-type pine stands. In most cases, it flowers amongst mosses and is most common in the ridge areas. Though it grows under pines, it is a parasite but will take nutrition from mushrooms rather than the pine. Its flowers smell deeply of vanilla but after flowering, the entire stem hardens and the flower straightens from its drooping position. The whole stem will then stand until the next summer allowing its seeds to spread further from the mother plant.
Photo: Jyrki Oja