How could something so small and delicate have such a gruesome reputation? Here it is: early coral root (Corallorhiza trifida), one of nature's saprophytic plants. (That there is my finger next to it, to give you an idea of size).
Up close, it's really a beautiful little thing, an orchid in miniature. But, despite its greenish color, this plant cannot make its own food. Instead, it gets it nourishment from dead and/or decaying matter, hence the term saprophyte.
Our interns and I stumbled across this flowering death eater (ha ha - couldn't resist - and yes, I am a Harry Potter fan) along the Rich Lake Trail this rainy afternoon. We found not just one, but several, some growing singly, others in little clusters.
I love saprophytic plants - they are lovely, unusual, and fill an important niche in our world. Beauty is everywhere - even tiny - even in death.