A “seasonal” image to complete 2005: candystick or sugarstick, with its red and white stem striping, obviously deserves its common names. The photographs lack visual cues (other than the moss) to give perspective, so I’ll mention that this particular plant measured roughly fifty centimeters (nearly two feet) high. Photographed in early July of 2004, this plant has nearly completed its flowering for the year, though a few blossoms have yet to senesce on the uppermost part of the plant.
Like the closely related Monotropa uniflora, Allotropa virgata is a mycoheterotroph, or one of the “ghostly fungus-robbers“. Lacking chlorophyll and therefore the ability to produce sugars, Allotropa virgata insteads taps sugars (and other nutrients) from an underground fungal network (which itself garnered the sugars from an association with a nearby conifer!).
Photography resource link: Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Landscape Artist, an article by Guy Tal for Nature Photographers Online.