Goodyera tesselata Lodd.

Tesselated rattlesnake plantain, Loddiges' rattlesnake plantain

The specific epithet tesselata is from the Latin meaning "checkered" or "mosaic-like," and refers to the checkered venation of the leaves.

Photo courtesy of Mark Larocque
DESCRIPTION: Plant pubescent above the leaves, 12-35 cm tall (including inflorescence), arising from a rhizome supported by a cluster of slightly fleshy, fibrous roots. Leaves 4-8, forming a basal rosette, petiolate, oblong-elliptical to elliptical-lanceolate, 3-9 cm long and 1-3.5 cm wide, light green with a prominent network of reticulate white markings. Inflorescence a downy, dense to lax, spicate, secund to loosely cylindrical raceme 12-35 cm tall, 12-35 flowered, each flower subtended by a small, lanceolate bract. Sepals oblong-lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, concave, 4-7 mm long and 3-4 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, 3.5-6 mm long and about 2-2.5 mm wide, closely appressed to the dorsal sepal, white. Labellum concave-shallowly saccate, the apex prolonged into an blunt point (looking somewhat like a spout), 4-7 mm long and 3-4 mm wide, white.

Goodyera tesselata can easily be confused with G. pubescens or G. repens var. ophioides. G. tesselata can be separated from G. pubescens 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. tesselata can be separated from G. repens var. ophioides by overall size, with G. tesselata being generally larger. 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.

Typically found growing in upland coniferous or mixed deciduous/coniferous forest. I have frequently found it growing in duff under Thuja or Picea, on steep, thin-soiled slopes in the northern part of Wisconsin.

July 20-August 25.

Kallunki (1981) believes that Goodyera tesselata is pollinated by bumblebees.

A study of this species by J. Kallunki (1976) indicated that it is most likely of hybrid origin. It is a tetraploid species, and probably arose as a fertile tetraploid hybrid of two diploid species, namely G. repens and G. oblongifolia. For a more detailed discussion, see Kallunki's paper.

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