Goodyera pubescens (Willd.) R. Br. in Ait. & Ait. f.

downy rattlesnake-plantain

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Downy rattlesnake-plantain, like other species in its genus (Goodyera) is evergreen. Thus, late fall and early spring are good times to search for it, when most other plants are dormant. Because of its attractive leaves, marked with a network of silvery veins, it is popular as a garden and terrarium plant. All parts of the plant are covered with very fine downy hair.

Habitat

Forests

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Leaf arrangement
basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Number of leaves on stem
absent
Form of lower petal
the labellum has a pouch-like shape
Lower petal outline
the labellum is simple in form
Main color of lower petal
white
Nectar spur
there are no nectar spurs on the flower
Inflorescence type
the inflorescence is a spike (a long unbranched stem with flowers along it that lack stalks)
Lower petal characteristics
the labellum is in the shape of a pouch
Lower petal length
2.5–4.2 mm
Sepal length
3.1–5.3 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Flowers
    Flower petal color
    white
    Flower symmetry
    there is only one way to evenly divide the flower (the flower is bilaterally symmetrical)
    Flowering date
    • August
    • July
    • September
    Flowers per inflorescence
    10–57
    Form of lower petal
    the labellum has a pouch-like shape
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has at least some hairs with glands at their bases or tips
    Hairs on inflorescence axis
    at least some of the hairs on the main stem of the inflorescence have glands
    Inflorescence length
    40–100 mm
    Inflorescence type
    the inflorescence is a spike (a long unbranched stem with flowers along it that lack stalks)
    Labellum position
    the labellum is in the lower position on the flower
    Length of flower stalk
    0 mm
    Length of narrowed base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Length of peduncle
    110–350 mm
    Lobes at base of lower petal
    0 mm
    Lower petal characteristics
    the labellum is in the shape of a pouch
    Lower petal length
    2.5–4.2 mm
    Lower petal outline
    the labellum is simple in form
    Lower petal strongly red-veined
    no
    Main color of lower petal
    white
    Nectar spur
    there are no nectar spurs on the flower
    Nectar spur length
    0 mm
    Number of stamens
    1
    Orientation of side petals
    the lateral petals are angled steeply upwards
    Pollen sacs
    the pollinia remain intact and do not fragment into smaller parts
    Self-pollinating flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on this plant
    Sepal length
    3.1–5.3 mm
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Shape of viscidium
    the viscidium is roughly circular
    Spots on lower petal
    no
    Spur opening membrane
    NA
    Spur opening shape
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Seed capsule orientation
    the capsule points upwards or is angled outwards
  • Growth form
    Plant green or not
    the plant is chlorophyllous (it has green parts)
    Roots
    the rhizomes do not resemble coral
    Underground organs
    • there are only slender roots on the plant
    • this plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bract relative length
    the bract is shorter than the associated flower
    Features of leaves
    the leaf is roughly checkered with green and white markings
    Leaf arrangement
    basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade edges
    the edges of the leaf blade have no teeth
    Leaf blade length
    21–62 mm
    Leaf blade length to width ratio
    1.6–2.1
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is elliptic (widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is obtuse (bluntly pointed)
    Leaf blade width
    13–30 mm
    Leaves during flowering
    there are leaves on the plant when it is flowering
    Number of bracts on stem
    4–14
    Number of leaves on stem
    absent
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    forests

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
uncommon to fairly widespread (S-rank: S3S4)
Massachusetts
fairly widespread (S-rank: S4)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Goodyera oblongifolia:
leaf blades usually white only on the midvein, or the white coloration definitely fading toward the margins and inflorescence less dense, the ascending spiral usually discernable (vs. G. pubescens, with leaf blades usually with white coloration on the primary lateral veins and with white connecting cross veins and inflorescence dense, the spiral hardly discernable).
Goodyera tesselata:
inflorescence somewhat open, with a discernable spiral of flowers and flowering stem with 2-7 scale-like bracts (vs. C. pubescens, with inflorescence dense, without a discernable spiral and flowering stem with 4-14 scale-like bracts).

Synonyms

  • Neottia pubescens Willd.
  • Peramium pubescens (Willd.) MacM.

Family

Orchidaceae

Genus

Goodyera

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Goodyera pubescens (Willd.) R. Br. in Ait. & Ait. f. N

downy rattlesnake-plantain. Neottia pubescens Willd.; Peramium pubescens (Willd.) MacM. 
• CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Mesic to dry-mesic forests, frequently in association with Pinus strobus, Quercus rubra, and/or Tsuga canadensis.