Goodyera repens (L.) R. Br. in Ait. & Ait. f.

Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain, Lesser Rattlesnake Plantain, Northern Rattlesnake Plantain

Facts About

Accepted Synonym: Goodyera ophioides

Goodyera repens, also called Dwarf Rattlesnake Plantain, is distributed across much of Canada, the mid-Atlantic and New England, and parts of the central and southwest U.S. It grows in mixed or coniferous forests, preferring shady, moist woods throughout much of its range but tolerating drier conditions in the southern Appalachians; rarely, it grows in bogs or swamps. In summer or early fall, it produces up to 36 small white flowers, with a concave, pouch-like labellum and a curved hood over the column formed by the petals and dorsal sepal. Like others of this genus, its stem and sepals are covered in thin hairs. This orchid's small size distinguishes it from Goodyera tesselata and Goodyera oblongifolia.

Goodyera repens is considered globally secure but is rare throughout much of the East Coast.


Bumblebees, such as Bombus perplexus are important pollinators of this orchid as they search for nectar. Bees usually work their way from the bottom to the top of a flower spike because flowers at the base of the spike mature first and produce nectar. These flowers have exposed stigmas and pollen can be easily transferred from the bees’ proboscis as it probes for nectar. Flowers on the same spike nearer the top produce less nectar and the stigma is not accessible for pollination. Pollen can still be attached to the proboscis and as the bee gathers nectar from an open flower on another plant, pollen is deposited on the stigma its pollen load, cross-pollinating the flower. This orchid is also pollinated halictid bees and syrphid flies.

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties

Some field guides describe two varieties of Goodyera repens: individuals with plain green leaves as var. repens and those with leaf veins bordered by broad white bands as var. ophioides. Many specimens from western North America are intermediate in this character and occasionally both kinds of leaves occur on the same plant. Because of this variation in the degree of white reticulation, we do not recognize these varieties here.

Ecosystem Type

Bogs, floodplains, forests, meadows, swamps, woodlands


Leaf arrangement:
Number of leaves on stem:
Form of the labellum:
the labellum is pouch-like
Labellum outline:
the labellum is simple
Main color of labellum:
Nectar spur:
Inflorescence type:
the inflorescence is a spike
Labellum characteristics:
the labellum is saccate
Labellum length:
1.8–4.8 mm
Sepal length:
3–5.2 mm
Plant height:
3–25 cm
Show All Characteristics

Native to North America


North American Conservation Status & Distribution

Conservation Status

Select a location to view conservation status:

Conservation and Wetland Status
Global Rank Secure
US Status N/A
Canadian Status Secure

North America Distribution

Adapted from USDA data