Goodyera repens (Lesser Rattlesnake Plantain)

Plant Info
Also known as: Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain
Family:Orchidaceae (Orchid)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; coniferous swamps, bogs, forests; mixed forests
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:3 to 7 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: none MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: irregular Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Typically lose, spike-like raceme of  up to 25 tiny, pubescent (hairy) irregular white flowers each about 1/8 inch across. The lower lip is globular with a lip at the end of the sack; lateral petals and sepals are white. The flowers tend to be mostly on one side of the stem.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are evergreen, mostly basal, oval to egg-shaped with a blunt point at the tip, ½ to 1¼ inches long, dark green with broad pale green to white reticulation. Several scale-like leaves are alternately attached on the single, pubescent (hairy) stem.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an ascending to spreading capsule, up to ¼ inch long.


Minnesota's smallest Goodyera species, its range fairly concisely overlaps that of our third rattlesnake plantain, G. tesselata and can be found growing in close proximity with one another. Generaly the Lesser prefers wetter habitats, like coniferous bogs, and the Tesselated is more often found in drier upland Jackpine sites. Still both can go to the opposite extremes and hitch up to produce an occasional hybrid. Some references list 2 varieties of G. repens: var. ophioides, considered the MN species, and var. repens, more of a west coast species with no reticulation on the leaves, but there is some debate as to whether the varieties are valid.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in Chippewa National Forest in Beltrami County


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Gail - central Cass County in N.C. Minn.
on: 2010-07-19 11:39:06

My daughter helped me identify this plant, which hasn't bloomed yet but has beautifully patterned leaves. It's growing on the edge of my lawn/mowed area, next to the woods.

Posted by: Lindsey - Boundary Waters Canoe Area
on: 2014-08-16 14:17:44

Found this growing next to the portage trail the day we traveled from Insula Lake to Ima Lake. Growing in moss next to some bluebeard lilies.

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