Identification & Description:
Rattlesnake-plantains get their name from their broad, rounded leaves, which are similar in shape to those of plantain, a common lawn weed. They are not actually plantains; they are orchids. Checkered rattlesnake-plantain has leaves with soft green markings. It can be distinguished from Connecticut’s other two species, downy rattlesnake-plantain (the most common species) and dwarf rattlesnake-plantain (Goodyera repens), both of which have bright silver markings on their leaves. However, checkered rattlesnake-plantain and dwarf rattlesnake-plantain can hybridize to plants with intermediate markings, so identification is sometimes difficult.
The dense single spike of small white flowes is 2 – 4″ long and sits well above the basal leaves. The stalk is a bit hairy. The leaves are dark blue-green with white veins that has a strong white line running the length of the small (1 – 3″) ovate leaves. The plant grows to 16″ generally.
An evergreen perennial growing to 0.4m. It is hardy to zone 6. It is in leaf all year, in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs). We rate it 1 out of 5 for usefulness.
The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil.
• Family: Orchid (Orchidaceae)
• Habitat: rich woods
• Height: 6-16 inches
• Flower size: 1/4 inch long
• Flower color: white
• Flowering time: July to August
• Origin: native
Requires a somewhat shady site and a well-drained compost of peat, leafmold and sand. Does well in the woodland garden.
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid.
This species is closely related to the British native species, G. repens.
This plant is too rare in the wild to be harvested.