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Red Monotropa hypopitys in Sudbury, MA

Monotropaceae was a small family of flowering plants under the old Cronquist system of plant classification. It included 10 genera Allotropa, Cheilotheca, Hemitomes, Monotropa, Monotropastrum, Monotropsis, Pityopus, Pleuricospora, Pterospora, Sarcodes.

Recent genetic research by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group has however demonstrated that these genera are better placed in the blueberry family, the Ericaceae, in which they are now treated as a subfamily, the Monotropoidiae. Before this, they were sometimes also placed in the family Pyrolaceae, which is now also in the Ericaceae.

All monotropoids are myco-heterotrophs, meaning that they contain no chlorophyll and therefore do not get their food from photosynthesis, but instead derive both nutrients and carbon sources from parasitizing on fungi.[1]


  1. ^ Helgasson et al. (1998) Nature 394, 431: Ploughing up the wood wide web?