Goodyera tesselata (Tesselated Rattlesnake Plantain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; sandy coniferous or mixed forests, Jack Pine stands
Bloom season:June - August
Plant height:7 to 13 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU 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] Tall and narrow, spike-like raceme of 21 to 45 moderately spaced, tiny, pubescent (hairy) white flowers each about 1/8 inch across. The lower lip is more receded with a lip extending out; lateral petals and sepals are white and spreading outward.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are evergreen, forming the season prior to bloom, mostly basal, 1 to 2½ inches long, oval to egg-shaped with a blunt tip, dull green with pale green to white reticulation. A few scale-like leaves are alternately attached on the single pubescent (hairy) stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is an ascending capsule, about 1/3 inch long.


Perhaps the middle child of Minnesota's Goodyera species, its range is akin to G. repens (Lesser Rattlesnake Plantain) and so as well can be found growing in close proximity with it. The opposite of the Lesser, Tesselated gravitates strongly to drier upland sites. As children of like nature can play and occasionally produce a hybrid. Other differences between the 2 species are Lesser is a smaller plant with smaller leaves that have a more blotchy reticulation. Also note that the common name Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain is more commonly used by other references (in print and on the web), but Tesselated is the preferred common name in MN.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • Prairie Restorations - Bringing people together with the land
  • Landscape Alternatives
  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken along Hwy 64 in Cass County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken along Hwy 64 in Cass and Hubbard counties.


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

Posted by: Larry - Cass County
on: 2011-07-19 23:40:26

I have been seeing these in the woods for the last ten years or so, while mushroom hunting. Always wondered what they were called. Now I know.A different looking plant for sure.

Posted by: Mike Link - Pine County, next to Willow River State forest
on: 2020-07-17 15:04:44

This is in Jackpine forest - scattered within the forest - seven of them on my property that I have found so far. They are mixed among the Jacks.

Posted by: Michael Clark - Scandia, Minnesota
on: 2022-07-31 09:23:06

Found growing in the base of native ferns in my garden in Scandia, Minnesota, which is not far from William O'Brien State Park. Such a unique looking plant.

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.