Beech-drops. Epifagus virginiana.
Orobanchaceae, the broom-rape family.

Plant: Highly branched, parasitic plant 6"-18", without leaves or chlorophyll, and spike-like clusters of brownish- or magenta-marked flowers on brownish stems. Perennial
Flowers: Brownish or magenta-marked, about 1/2" long, tube-like, bilateral, with upper and lower lips. Corolla is shallowly five-lobed, and there are five highly reduced sepals. Flowers are in a spike-like arrangement on brownish stems, actually rising from the axils of small scales, which are vestigal leaves. There are often reduced, bud-like flowers on the lower stem which never open, but are self-fertilized and produce seed.
Leaves: Absent, represented by small, triangular scales. Pattern is alternate.
Fruit: A small, brown capsule.
Blooming: August-October
Habitat: Deciduous woods under beech trees.

Comments: This native plant is parasitic on the roots of beech trees, and thus does not need leaves or chlorophyll. The flowers, though small, have interesting markings.

Where to find it: Common beneath beech trees in the upper woods in fall.