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Downy Rattlesnake Plantain Goodyera pubescens

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
GOOD-yer-uh pew-BES-ens
Description

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain is an evergreen herbaceous perennial in the orchid family that is native to dry to mesic woodlands, bluffs, wooded slopes, and wooded ravines. The white leaf markings resemble the skin of some rattlesnakes,  and the flower stalks are covered with down, giving it the common name of downy rattlesnake plantain. It was named the 2016 wildflower of the year.

As with most orchids, the roots have a mycorrhizal relationship with fungi that assists the plant getting moisture and ­nutrients, while the plant provides products of its photosynthesis to feed the fungus. It spreads by rhizomatous off-sets. A new rosette of leaves may take several years before blooming. They are pollinated by bees.

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain is easy to grow in a woodland garden situation. It requires dappled sunlight, acidic soils with organic matter, and a layer of mulch to ensure consistent soil moisture.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#evergreen#sun#showy flowers#partial shade#perennial#acidic soil#herb garden#NC native#well-drained soil#summer flowers#herbaceous perennial#hairy#orchid#naturalizes#wildflower garden#spiky#dry soils tolerant#woodlands
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#evergreen#sun#showy flowers#partial shade#perennial#acidic soil#herb garden#NC native#well-drained soil#summer flowers#herbaceous perennial#hairy#orchid#naturalizes#wildflower garden#spiky#dry soils tolerant#woodlands
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Goodyera
    Species:
    pubescens
    Family:
    Orchidaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Leaves have been used to make tea to improve appetite and treat colds and kidney problems.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    SE. Canada to E. Central & E. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    Quebec to Minnesota, south to Oklahoma and Florida.
    Wildlife Value:
    Bees pollinate the flowers
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 6 in. - 1 ft. 6 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 9 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Perennial
    Wildflower
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Fruits are globose to ellipsoid capsules with numerous tiny dust-like seeds.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Spike
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Lipped
    Flower Petals:
    2-3 rays/petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    1/4 inch white to greenish-white, hairy, rounded flowers with a pouch-like labellum and a hood formed by connivent petals and dorsal sepal on a dense spike-like raceme. July to Sept.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are up to 3 inches long, bluish-green, with prominent white veins in a basal rosette. Each leaf has a broad midvein with two smaller veins near the base of the blade that converge near the tip. Additional fine veins complete an irregular network pattern.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Densely hair light green flower stalk
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Native Garden
    Shade Garden
    Attracts:
    Bees