PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For the first time in Massachusetts, a rare plant that is considered endangered in nearby states has been located in the Berkshires.

According to MassWildlife, Syke van der Laan, an amateur botanist, was out in the Berkshires when he found a strange looking plant and thought it was best to advise MassWildlife on the discovery. MassWildlife State Botanist Robert Wernerehl and retired MassWildlife Biologist Tony Gola came out to view the plant and discovered this was the first time ever in Massachusetts to find “pine-drops.”

Pine-drops discovered in the Berkshires (Credit: MassWildlife)

Pine-drops is a very unique plant because it contains no chlorophyll but relies on mycorrhizal fungi in the soil for nutrients. The creamy-white flower can appear after rain in the mid-summer. MassWildlife says pine-drops are closely related to the blueberry family.

Pine-drops is known to commonly appear in the Rocky Mountains in the western part of the country but does have a small population in nearby states like New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. However, in those Northeast states, pine-drops is considered endangered.

“The pine-drops prefers dry pine forests, and we have plenty of that,” explains Wernerehl. “We’re grateful to the sharp eyes and careful observations of naturalists like Skye that help us expand our understanding of biodiversity in the Commonwealth.”

The plant’s seeds are light and carried by strong winds, which we’ve seen a lot of this summer. However, this plant typically doesn’t spread easily so the discovery of pine-drops in the Berkshires is certainly an extraordinary find. It’s unclear if the plant has just been undetected for a long time or if we’ll see more of the plant in the Commonwealth.

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