This Rattlesnake Won’t Bite

While out and about this time of year you may notice that the world slowly becomes more green with new plant friends blooming, enjoying the longer hours of sunlight and warmer temperatures. Inevitably, another season arrives. This spring was slow to come on here in Massachusetts, but there are sure signs that it fast approaches.

One such sign is the appearance of the Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyera pubescens, an orchid native to this region. The beautiful rosets appear around now, late March to mid-April, springing up amongst the dead leaves of last year’s fall. The beautiful evergreen foliage features an intricate veined pattern reminiscent of snakeskin, which is where this orchid gets its name. Flowers will appear in late summer, giving us plenty to look forward to with this plant after the spring has gone by.

If you live in New England or anywhere in the eastern U.S. or Canada, see if you can spot this little guy growing near your feet. A good place to look will be in areas that are well-shaded and well-drained, with slightly acidic soil. Happy hunting!

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