Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rattlesnake Plantain

On my wanderings with Kodi today, I came upon one of my favorite woodland plants -- downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens). This plant is apparently fairly common in our oak-pine woodlands, although you don't see it very often.The flower spike is nondescript once flowering is past; however, the basal rosette of evergreen leaves with their white stripe down the middle and network of thin white veins are what catch your eye.

This plant is so named for a few reasons.The shape of the leaves slightly resemble the common plantain in your lawn. And the white vein pattern looks a bit like a shed snake skin. Regardless, it is not a plantain at all but an orchid. There are other less common rattlesnake plantains around. The downy rattlesnake plantain is distinct with its broad white strip down the center of the leaf and its densely packed flower spike that is symmetrical on the stalk (not one-sided or spiral). Keep an eye out for the common the not so common rattlesnake plantains when walking through an oak woodland.


  1. Hey Ellen,

    Thanks for reminding me of this handsome plant. I've gotten where I concentrate more on birds and drawing them when I'm out these days and I tend to miss things like this.


  2. Hi Ken,

    I too have been distracted the last few months, so feels good to get out in the woods and wetlands for slow walkabouts again. I've been admiring your shorebirds from afar. Will check in soon.