This intriguing plant can be found in hardwood forests of eastern North America. When you can identify it, please comment with both the common name and scientific name. Also, you are welcome to share any personal connection with, or story you have of, this plant.
ANSWER (subsequently added to this post to facilitate the “search” function for these images): Squawroot (Conopholis americana)
OK – I’ve never seen this myself (wish I could!) but I guessed by the pics that it’s a saprophytic orchid. i googled “saprophytic plants” and picked the one most likely – Conopholis americana, broomrape/ American cankerroot/squawroot. There’s a picture and description at http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/conopholisamer.html
Great job of researching, Jane! Although it’s not an orchid, this is, indeed, Squawroot (Conopholis americana). I find these “non-green” plants (without chlorophyll) quite intriguing.