Herbs & Plants

Goodyera pubescens

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Botanical Name:Goodyera pubescens
Species:G. pubescens

Common Name :Rattlesnake Plantain

Habitat :Goodyera pubescens is native to eastern N. America – Maine to Florida, west to Alberta and Quebec. It grows in almost any wooded habitat with acid soils, mainly on moist humus soils in shady, upland woods of hemlock, pine, oak, or maple, less frequent in lowland woods, bogs, swamps; 0 -1600 metres

Goodyera pubescens is an evergreen Perennial orchid growing to 0.4m. It is of terrestrial species with variegated leaves. The variegation is in the form of a densely-reticulated network of veins that are a much lighter green than the rest of the leaf tissue. It is a creeping plant that divides on the ground surface and sends out short stolons. It may be terrestrial or, occasionally, epipetric, growing on rock shelves. It prefers mildly to moderately acidic soils, such as in oak-heath forests


Plant pubescent above the leaves, 10-40 cm tall (including inflorescence), arising from a branching rhizome supported by a cluster of slightly fleshy, fibrous roots, often forming dense clusters of rosettes. Leaves 4-8, forming a basal rosette, petiolate, oblong-elliptical to elliptical-lanceolate, 3-9 cm long and 1-3.5 cm wide, dark green or blue-green with a prominent white stripe along the midrib and a prominent network of reticulate white markings. Inflorescence a downy, dense spicate raceme 10-40 cm tall, 20-50 flowered, typically cylindrical, each flower subtended by a small, lanceolate bract. Sepals ovate to ovate-lanceolate, concave, 4-5 mm long and 3-4 mm wide, white and smooth inside, the outer surfaces pubescent and often marked with green, lateral sepals typically smaller than dorsal sepal and slightly spreading; dorsal sepal connivent with petals to form a hood over the column. Petals oblong or spatulate, 3.5-6 mm long and about 3 mm wide, closely appressed to the dorsal sepal, white. Labellum deeply globular-saccate to scrotiform, the apex prolonged into an blunt point (looking somewhat like a spout), 3.5-4.5 mm long and 3-3.5 mm wide, white, pubescent outside.

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) and are pollinated by Insects.
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.

SIMILAR SPECIES: Goodyera pubescens can easily be confused with G. tesselata or perhaps G. repens var. ophioides. G. pubescens can be separated from G. tesselata by the labellum, which is concave in G. tesselata, but is deeply globular-saccate in G. pubescens. Also, the leaves of G. tesselata are smaller than those of G. pubescens, and typically lack the thick white central vein of G. pubescens. G. pubescens can be separated fromG. repens var. ophioides by the inflorescence, which is secund or loosely spiraled in G. repens var. ophioides, but is a cylindrical, densely-packed spike in G. pubescens.

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.

Seed – surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move

Medicinal Uses:
Appetizer; Miscellany; Odontalgic; Ophthalmic; Poultice.

A tea made from the roots is used in the treatment of pleurisy and snakebites. A tea made from the leaves is taken to improve the appetite, as a treatment for colds, kidney ailments, rheumatism and toothaches. Externally, a poultice of the wilted leaves is used to cool burns, treat skin ulcers and relieve rheumatic joints. An ooze from the plant (this probably means the sap or the juice of the bulb) has been used as eye drops to treat sore eyes.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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