Native Plant of the Month: Rattlesnake Plantain

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Rattlesnake Plantain- Goodyera oblongifolia

One surprising treasure in Shadow Lake Bog is an orchid: Goodyera oblongifolia or Rattlesnake Plantain. Yes, you can find an wild orchid at your local nature preserve.

 

The western rattlesnake plantain is similar to other orchids in that it does not flower every year so if you do see their flowering spikes, count yourself lucky. July and August are the blooming months, but you can see the basal leaves all year long.

 

The unique mottled leaves of the rattlesnake plantain are distinguishable among the hummocks of the bog. Dark green leaves with a white vein grow in a tight bunching pattern commonly referred to as a rosette.

 

These orchids grow in coniferous forests and low to mid elevation so glacial-formed valleys of Washington are perfect areas to spot them. Though the basal leaf formation stays low to the ground, the shooting tubes which host their flowers can grow up to 14 inches. The height of the tubes assist bumblebees who are the primary pollinators of the rattlesnake plantain. These orchids are sensitive to fertilizers and have a symbiotic relationship with fungus. The acidity of the peat bog assists both the fungus and the orchid.

 

Want more Knowledge? 

Washington Native Plant Society: Rattlesnake plantain
iNaturalist: Western Rattlesnake Plantain