Goodyera repens (L.) R. Brown var. ophioides Fern.

Lesser rattlesnake plantain

The specific epithet repens is the Latin meaning "creeping," and refers to the spreading rhizomes. The varietal name ophioides is the Greek meaning "snake-like."

DESCRIPTION: Plant pubescent above the leaves, 6-15(-20) cm tall (including inflorescence), arising from a rhizome supported by a cluster of slightly fleshy, fibrous roots. Leaves 4-7, forming a basal rosette, short-petiolate, ovate, 1.5-4 cm long and 0.5-2 cm wide, dark green or blue-green with a +/- prominent network of reticulate silvery markings. Inflorescence a downy, dense to lax, spicate, secund raceme 6-15(-20) cm tall, 8-20 flowered, each flower subtended by a small, lanceolate bract. Sepals ovate to elliptical, concave, 3-4.5 mm long and 1-2.5 mm wide, white and smooth inside, the outer surfaces pubescent, 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, 3-4.5 mm long and about 1-2 mm wide, closely appressed to the dorsal sepal, white. Labellum globular-saccate, the apex prolonged into an blunt point (looking somewhat like a spout), 2.5-4 mm long and about 2 mm wide, white.

Goodyera repens var. ophioides can easily be confused with G. tesselata or perhaps G. pubescens . G. repens var. ophioides can be separated from G. tesselata by overall size, with G. repens var. ophioides being generally smaller. Distinguishing between these two taxa can be very difficult, however. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that G. tesselata frequently hybridizes with G. repens var. ophioides. G. repens var. ophioides can be separated from G. pubescens by the inflorescence, which is secund or loosely spiraled in G. repens var. ophioides, but is a cylindrical, densely-packed spike in G. pubescens.

Typically found in coniferous bogs, particularly under Thuja, but also found in damp woods and rarely drier woods. I have found Goodyera repens var. ophioides growing under Thuja on a dryish dolomite outcrop in the upper peninsula of Michigan, not far from the Wisconsin. It may occupy similar habitat occasionally in Wisconsin.

July 15-August 25.

According to Kallunki (1981), bumblebees pollinate G. repens var. ophioides.

DISCUSSION: This species is involved with Goodyera oblongifolia in the hybridogenic origin of G. tesselata. For a detailed discussion of this, see Kallunki (1976). Our variety ophioides is distinguished from variety repens by the venation, which is prominent in variety ophioides and absent in variety repens.

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