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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Ordo: Ericales

Familia: Ericaceae
Subfamilia: Monotropoideae
Tribus: Monotropeae
Genus: Pityopus
Species: P. californica

Pityopus Small, 1914
Primary references

Small, J.K., 1914. North American Flora 29(1): 16.


Hassler, M. 2020. Pityopus. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2020. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2020 May 22. Reference page.
Govaerts, R. et al. 2020. Pityopus in Kew Science Plants of the World online. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2020 May 22. Reference page.
International Plant Names Index. 2020. Pityopus. Published online. Accessed: May 22 2020. 2020. Pityopus. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 22 May 2020.
USDA, ARS, Germplasm Resources Information Network. Pityopus in the Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Accessed: 09-Oct-10.

Vernacular names

Pityopus is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae containing the single species Pityopus californicus, which is known by the common name pinefoot.[1]


The plant is native to the mountains of the West Coast of the United States below 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) in elevation, from Washington to the Bay Area in California.[1] It is uncommon throughout its range.

It grows in coniferous and mixed forest types. Habitats include mixed evergreen forest, yellow pine forest, red fir forest, and coastal coniferous forest.[2]

Pityopus californicus, a perennial herb, is a mycoheterotroph, parasitizing fungi for nutrients. It is cream or white in color, lacking chlorophyll.[1] It is the smallest mycotroph in the heath family.[3]

It produces a fleshy stemless peduncle above the leaf litter of the forest floor, reaching no more than 10 centimeters tall. It is covered with scale-like leaves, reduced as they do not perform photosynthesis.

The above ground portion of the plant is essentially just inflorescence, with 2 to 11 cylindrical white flowers blooming for a short time. The flower has four or five white petals and a hairy throat. The bloom period is May to July.[1]

It produces a berry under a centimeter wide containing many seeds. The mature plant has a scent reminiscent of Brie cheese, which may serve to attract pollinators.[4] After fruiting the plant withers away until the following flowering season.

Jepson eFlora (TJM2): Pityopus californicus
Calflora: Pityopus californicus
Mycotrophic wildflowers: What are they?
Mycotrophic wildflowers: Pityopus californica

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