Podyelniki or Vertlyanitsa (Monótropa) - genus of perennial herbs saprophytic non-chlorophyll heather family. Plants of this genus are widespread in regions with a temperate and cold climate of the Northern Hemisphere, mostly in coniferous forests.
The genus consists of two species, one of which is found in Russia.
The genus Podjelnik was previously included in the family Monotropaceae Nutt. (Vertlyanitovye, or Podjelnikovye), but later the rank of Podilnikovye was downgraded to the subfamily (Monotropoideae) in the Heather family (Ericaceae) Now this subfamily includes three tribes, including the Vertlyanitsy tribe, or Monotropeae, with about eight genera, among which are Allotrope, Monotropsis and Podjelnik.
A synonym for the scientific name is Hypopitys Hill (1756).
The scientific generic name - Monotropa - can be translated as "one-sided" (Greek monos - "one", tropos - "turn"). This name is given because of the one-sided inflorescence characteristic of the Monotropa hypopitys species, which grows in Europe. The Russian name "podilnik" is a translation of the specific epithet of the same species (Greek hypo - "under", pitys - "spruce").
Russian folk names - podvelnitsa (accomplice), urazny grass.
The English names of the genus - Indian Pipe ("Indian pipe" - because of the similarity of plants with the smoking pipes of the Indians), Ghost Plant ("ghost plant", "perfume flower" - because of the white), Corpse Plant ("cadaverous flower").
The Finnish name of the genus, Mäntykukat, literally means "pine flowers", and the Estonian, seen-lill, means "flower mushroom", by its resemblance to forest cap mushrooms.
Representatives of the genus are perennial herbaceous plants completely devoid of chlorophyll. The color is white or yellowish (sometimes pink or even pink-red), the same for the stem, and for the leaves, and for the flowers; the whole plant appears to be sculpted out of wax. Loch woods are common in shady forests of different composition - mainly in conifers, but also in mixed and deciduous forests (for example, in oak forests). It grows in the forest floor - most often at the base of conifers.
The stem is juicy, 5 to 25 cm high, about 0.5 cm in diameter.
The leaves are alternate, fleshy, scaly, ovate-oblong, about 1.5 cm long.
The flowers are regular, up to 1.5 cm long, elongated bell-shaped. The flowers of the single-flowered weasel are single, in the common weasel - in the amount of two to twelve, closely adjoining each other, collected in an apical drooping brush. The calyx is missing; usually there are two bracts, almost equal in size to the petals. The corolla is almost white or creamy-yellowish, consists of four or five petals, each of which has a small saccular swelling at the base.
In the single-flowered weasel, nectar is released precisely by these thickenings. The nectar disc is absent in the flowers of the pine forest (unlike most other related species), however, reduced papillae are preserved at the base of the ovary. There are at least eight stamens. Flowering - from mid-summer to mid-autumn (in the European part of Russia - at the end of summer). The ovary is superior. Pollination occurs with the help of insects. To attract them, the plant emits a lemon-like scent.
The fruit is an oval (ovoid) capsule. When the fruits ripen, the drooping brush, on which there were flowers, straightens.
Seeds Podyelniki compared to seeds of other Ericaceae very light, like dust (their weight of 0.000003 g), provided with a "tail." The "tail" and such a small mass are explained by the fact that the seeds are spread by air currents, and in the dense forests in which the codwood grows, the wind is very weak.
Until recently, it was believed that the cormorant is a saprophytic plant, but the organization of its feeding turned out to be much more complicated. The codwood, like most other members of the Heather family, lives in symbiosis with microscopic fungi. The peculiarities of the symbiosis in the cod is that the hyphae of the same fungi penetrate both the roots of the crib and the roots of nearby trees.
Through these hyphae, the codwood receives not only those nutrients that the fungi produce, but also substances from trees (for example, phosphates) that it needs for normal functioning, including the formation of seeds (it is for this reason that the codwood can do without photosynthetic parts); in exchange, the trees receive, through the same mushroom hyphae, the excess sugars produced by the weed plant.
Another feature of the cormorant is that microscopic fungi are found in almost all organs of the plant: in the roots, and in shoots, and even in flowers.
The question remains open whether the representatives of the Podilnik genus should be considered parasitic plants.
The Indians of North America used podilnik to treat eye diseases: they applied a medicine from this plant to the conjunctiva of the eye. In Europe, weasel was used as a medicinal plant in the treatment of whooping cough.
The genus Podjelnik includes two types:
- Monotropa hypópitys L. (1753) - Common weasel [syn. Hypopitys monotropa Crantz (1766)]. The species is found in many regions of Eurasia with a temperate climate, as well as on the Pacific coast of North America. In Russia - in the European part, Siberia and the Far East. In the European part of Russia, the species is more often found in the non-chernozem zone. In general, this species is a rather rare plant, but in some places it is found in large numbers.
- Subspecies Monotropa hypopitys subsp. hypophegea is sometimes considered as a separate species of Monotropa hypophega Wallr. (1822) - Podborka [syn. Hypopitys hypopheghea (Wallr.) G. Don (1834)]. In comparison with the common weasel, the flowers of this species are glabrous, smaller, collected in loose inflorescences.
- Monotropa uniflora L. (1753) - One-flowered weasel. The species is found in the Himalayas, East Asia, as well as in North and Central America from Alaska to Panama, as well as in the north of South America (in Colombia), while the species range has significant gaps. The plant is quite rare. Usually white in color, but pink and red specimens are also found.