Goodyera pubescens (Downy Rattlesnake Plantain)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; dry to average moisture, oak-birch-aspen or pine forests
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:9 to 14 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FAC NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] A dense, cylindrical spike-like raceme of 28-52 tiny, densely pubescent (hairy) pearly white flowers. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch long, the lower lip is globular with a lip at the end of the sack. Lateral petals are white; sepals have a greenish surface.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are evergreen and mostly basal, dark green with fine silvery white reticulation and a thick stripe along each side of the midrib, oval to egg-shaped with a dull point, 1½ to 3½ inches long. There are also several scale-like leaves alternately attached on the densely pubescent (hairy) stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a drooping to ascending capsule about 1/3 inch long. The seed heads may persist to the following season.


A close up of this flower, it appears to be perpetually in song. I can hear its singing when I step into its garden. Of Minnesota's three Goodyera species, this has the most southeasterly range both in Minnesota and nationally, and it overlaps the other species' ranges in Cass and Aitkin Counties. It is the largest of the Rattlesnake Plantains in MN but is most easily distinguished by the fine white veining on the leaves and broad stripe along the midrib. The other 2 species have thick veining and/or no center stripe.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken along Hwy 64 in Hubbard County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Neville - Wild River State Park
on: 2010-09-20 10:53:49

There is a small but vigorous population in a paper birch and red maple stand near the picnic pavilion.

Posted by: Jake - Nerstrand,MN Bigwoods state park
on: 2012-08-21 12:26:02

Nerstrand Big Woods state park.

Posted by: Karl - Big Trout Lake, Crow Wing Co. MN.
on: 2013-06-08 18:47:13

I found a small cluster of plants on the NW end of the lake.

Posted by: Anthony - Falls Creek SNA
on: 2014-07-15 03:50:38

Found on steep, north-facing slopes in Falls Creek SNA

Posted by: Bob - Camp Ajawah, Anoka County
on: 2016-07-17 16:03:47

Found a patch on the flats below the long line, just north of the path/road. No flowers.

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