Appalachia Cataloochee Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Squaw Root

The sights of Cataloochee were a true feast for my eyes-the history being the best thing on the plate-but coming in a close second were the trees-bushes-and other fauna.


We were only a few hundred yards from the car when I noticed this unusual plant-it’s called Squaw Root. I had never seen it before-but it immediately made me think of Indian Smoke Pipe.


Like Indian Pipes/Ghost Flower, Squaw Root is a parasitic plant and is typically found in dry areas under oak trees where it feeds on their roots. Squaw Root grows up to 8 inches high.

The common name, Squaw Root, comes from the use of the plant. Indian women used it to relieve pain from childbirth as well as from menstrual cramps.

Funny that when I first seen the odd little plant it reminded me of Indian Pipes-and then to find out they both have common names that relate to Native Americans-and are both parasitic.

Does Squaw Root grow in your area?



You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 7:48 am

    i have squaw root on my place under oak trees only in one rocky hill side in Adams county Ohio

  • Reply
    June 19, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Nope, I’ve never seen Squaw Root, or actually even ever heard of it. It looks like a really interesting plant.

  • Reply
    June 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    I’ve never seen it before. But I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Tipper–I’m a day late and several dollars short as usual, but I can add at least a bit to your blog and the comments on squaw root. Once you see the plant and Indian pipe side by side, the differences are obvious. One interesting fact about squaw root is that bears love to eat it. It is around in the early spring in plentitude.
    I’m really surprised you were not previously familiar with it, because the plant is commonplace throughout the mountains. I’ll bet Matt and the girls have seen it out turkey hunting. That’s the time of year it is in its prime. The plants you show are past their prime, as would be expected in early June.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    we have both here Tipper, then again we are in the same geographic area.. saw a new one to us here the other day,a cauliflower mushroom

  • Reply
    Cheryl soehl
    June 18, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    We love Cataloochee. — my sister’s husband, Lowell Hannah grew up in the park, where his father, Mark, was a ranger. The best hike I ever had was one with my sister when we saw a great horned owl — enormous one just perched on a tree limb for the longest time. Now the big attraction is the elk, but I still treasure the sight of that owl!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    I believe it grows here in N.E. Ohio; I remember being told about it when I was in Camp Fire Girls.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    Sorry, but I don’t know if I’ve
    ever seen Squaw Root or Indian
    Pipes. But I also never knew of
    Jim Casada’s moral mushrooms
    either, which tasted delicious.
    I see a lot of stuff in the woods
    and don’t know what it is, so I’m
    just thankful for all of God’s

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 18, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I can’t say that I’ve seen this particular squawroot in our woods lately as I have not been prowling about in a few years
    up on the North slopes where it is likely to grow..I have seen it however…and have seen the Indian Pipes in our woods too…Plenty of Oaks and loamy soil, lots of tree roots for it to grow on…
    It is very confusing this Squawroot thing (very short plant parasite)…as natives also called Black and Blue Cohosh squawroot and squaw weed, tall plant of the Buttercup family?
    At any rate, I am glad I don’t need a concoction of either Squaw root plant remedy anymore! ha
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    laura k
    June 18, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    interesting…i’ve seen the indian pipe growing in our yard…i’ll keep my eyes open for the squaw root.
    i live in north florida…have been up in your area a few times…beautiful.
    i’ll be back to wander some more…

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    June 18, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    wow ive never heard of that and no.. havent seen it either.. what an exciting experience for you to be able to find all this nature and history before your very eyes..
    thank you so much tipper for always being so generous with your thoughts and pictures.. i so enjoy it and its like i am able to experience it with you
    big ladybug hugs and love

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    We live in the foothills of the Ozarks and I’ve never seen these plants. There are many kinds of oaks growing along the creeks here, so who knows? They might grow here. I’ll be on the look-out for them.

  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    June 18, 2011 at 9:42 am

    Oh… I don’t know if it can grow, here, in NY. I’m going to look around! Interesting post, Tipper

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    June 18, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Tipper: I have to admit that I can’t tell the difference in the two parasitic plants. When we hike in the Smokies (LIKE LAST WEEK) we see the plants. Some folks say they are Squaw Roots and others say they are Indian Pipes. Guess it depends on what you have been told.
    I love the Cataloochee region! I have only hiked there a couple of times with our Smokey Mountain hikers. The history of the brave folks who made their homes there inspire me in many special ways!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I’ve never seen either plant around here. In the Northwest we have nettles, horsetail, loosestrife and English ivy as pesky plants. My neighbors planted English ivy on our common chain link fence. It is very invasive and awfully hard to keep under control.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Have never heard of squaw root nor seen it, so don’t think it grows here. Very interesting story tho. Wish i knew more about plants and uses of them.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I haven’t seen squaw root yet Tipper, but Indian Pipe does grow in forested areas here in NW Florida.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 11:34 am

    so far as i know it does not grow in FL but it might. I have never seen either one of these and find it really interesting.

  • Reply
    June 18, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I have not seen any of this, but then again I have not looked for it. I will be looking for it. I am in Caldwell county – foot hills – so I am not sure it will grow here. Interesting!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    June 18, 2011 at 8:55 am

    I’ve not seen any of that here–neither mayapple or paw-paw.

  • Leave a Reply