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Rattlesnake Plantain Orchid, Goodyeara pubescens
Photo by Jim Jung. All rights reserved.

Rattlesnake Plantain Orchids

Goodyeara pubescens

Rattlesnake Plantain is one of my favorite Orchid species and, in southern Illinois at any rate, one of the rarest. With its small rosettes of plaid, hairy leaves peaking out from under fallen leaves our only evergreen orchid is distinctive and unique. And while it can occur almost anywhere there is fertile woodland soil and maturing trees it's most often found in and among older pine plantations on well-watered, north facing slopes.

Whenever I encounter a colony of these plants in winter I make sure to remove any recently fallen leaves that are blocking light from the plants. Oddly enough even this tiny effort seems to tilt the odds slightly in favor of the orchid colony. Colonies I've been "tending" over the years (admittedly haphazardly) are healthier and possess more individuals and blooms than colonies I leave strictly alone.

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