Tom's Blog

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Nice woodland orchid in bloom

Rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescens) is now in full bloom at Pleasant Valley Conservancy. This is probably the most common orchid in dry sites in southern Wisconsin woodlands.

We have only a few populations of this orchid, widely separated, so it is a treat when it flowers. The specimen in the photo is actually very close to our woods road and if you know where to look you can see it without any effort. This population has been at this location ever since we started restoration work over 10 years ago. For several years it disappeared, and Kathie thought perhaps it did not like being burned. This year she carefully cleared around this population so that it would not be burned. This seems to have done the trick, as we now have more flowering stems than ever.

The common name certainly derives from the "rattlesnake" like pattern of its leaves. The leaves are evergreen and the plant is often easier to find in a snowless winter than in the summer, when it is often crowded with other forbs. One winter when we were restoring one of our bur oak savannas we uncovered several patches that we had not known we had.


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