PlantsGoodyera→Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Downy Rattlesnake Plantain
Give a thumbs up Adder's Violet
Give a thumbs up Hairy Goodyera

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Dry Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5)
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 2 to 6 inches foliar, to 18 inches with flower scapes
Plant Spread: 4-6 inches
Leaves: Unusual foliage color
Other: blue-grey-green, hairy with white veins
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flowers: Inconspicuous
Flower Color: White
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Late summer or early fall
Underground structures: Rhizome
Uses: Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Propagation: Other methods: Stolons and runners
Pollinators: Bumblebees
Miscellaneous: Monoecious

Pair of Goodyera pubescens found on a hike

Photo gallery:

Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Apr 17, 2015 9:05 PM

The book, "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana gives the common name of Rattlesnake-Plantain and makes some rather outrageous claims. She says the plant has been reputed as an infallible cure for hydrophobia and snake bites. In fact, she says, "The Indians had such faith in its remedial virtues that they would allow a snake to drive its fangs into them for a small sum, if they had leaves on hand to apply to the wound."

Melanie hopes the Indians were suckering people for money and using non-venomous snakes. Still, don't ever use a plant for medicinal purposes without consulting a doctor. Also, don't handle snakes with the intention of letting them bite you. In a more pleasant description, the author notes that the flowers appear in late summer and are less conspicuous than the tufted, white-veined leaves.

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Posted by gardengus (Indiana Zone 5b) on Oct 31, 2015 3:15 PM

Small native wildflower found in dense woods, easy to spot due to the white veining on the leaves.
The common name refers to the leaves, which resemble a snake skin.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Aug 15, 2019 7:24 AM

This is a small, evergreen orchid. Its generic name came from the name of a 17th century English botanist, John Goodyer. Its broad leaves form a rosette that is like a Plantain. The leaves have a prominent reticulated pattern of white veins that gives a resemblance to the scaly skin of a rattlesnake. The 20 to 80 evenly spaced, white, lipped flowers are in a dense, cylindrical, terminal spike that is densely hairy. It blooms in July-August. It is native to southeast Canada, New England down into Florida, to Mississippi to eastern Oklahoma, up through Minnesota, growing in dry to moist, acid soils of woods. Its wild numbers are mostly all right now. It is found in scattered locations around; not just growing everywhere. It has a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizae fungi in the soil that helps it obtain nutrients in the soil and helps support its many minute, dust-like seeds. Some specialty nurseries offer some that have been raised in their garden beds. It is not good to dig it up out of a natural habitat. That would endanger its wild existence.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Update on the Houseplant Habitats! by Gina1960 Nov 16, 2019 3:00 PM 9
Plant ID Virginia by Verac Sep 2, 2019 2:47 PM 4
Untitled by Olives04 Aug 8, 2019 6:48 PM 6
Help IDing a native Kentucky plant? by oranges Jan 30, 2018 8:05 PM 5
Please Help Identify by graffl91 Sep 6, 2017 5:45 PM 2
Seen in Virginia by Rez Sep 4, 2017 4:00 PM 12
First Flowers of Spring 2017 by greenthumb99 May 26, 2017 5:35 PM 294
Our Orchid blooms in October 2014 by Ursula Nov 1, 2014 7:14 AM 218
Mysterious Brazilian rainforest plant for ID please. by bonitin Mar 29, 2014 12:13 PM 20
What's in your Garden February to beginning Oct. 2014 by Ted5310 Oct 16, 2014 9:17 AM 330

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