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Goodyera pubescens (Downy rattlesnake plantain)
Brundage, Stephanie

Goodyera pubescens

Goodyera pubescens (Willd.) R. Br.

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

Orchidaceae (Orchid Family)

Synonym(s): Peramium pubescens


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A cylindrical cluster of many small, white, round flowers atop a leafless, woolly stalk rising from a rosette of dark blue-green, white-veined leaves.

The highly decorative leaves of this plant are most unusual and often collected for terraria, a practice to be discouraged. A smaller species, Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain (G. repens), has flowers less than 1/4" (6 mm) long on only one side of the flowering stalk. Two species found in Canada and the northern states are Checkered Rattlesnake Plantain (G. tesselata), which has dull green leaves mottled with paler lines, and Greenleaf Rattlesnake Plantain (G. oblongifolia), which has leaves usually with only one main white vein. The common names refer to the mottled leaves, which resemble a snake's skin, a similarity that once suggested their use as a snakebite remedy.


From the Image Gallery

31 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 14 inches tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Sometimes tinged green or brown.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Ontario east to New Brunswick, south to Florida, west to Louisiana and Oklahoma, and north through Missouri to Minnesota.
Native Habitat: Dry or moist, deciduous or coniferous woods and well-drained wooded slopes.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil Description: Clay, Loam, Sand


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Goodyera pubescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Goodyera pubescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Goodyera pubescens


Record Modified: 2023-04-25
Research By: TWC Staff

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