Sunday, August 09, 2020

Does it look like a rattlesnake?

 The last time I visited Lake Hoomak was the middle of winter. Now, at the end of a cool summer, I found several unexpected plants, one of which I'd never seen before.

These two are orchids:

Rattlesnake plantain, Goodyera oblongifolia.

We call it a plantain, because it looks sort of like the common plantain that grows in our lawns and fields. But it's really an orchid. And other, similar orchids can be found here, but the basal rosette gives it away.

Basal rosettes of three orchids. Supposedly, the pattern looks like rattlesnake markings.

These were growing in the deepest, darkest part of the forest. They like the shade. (My camera didn't.)

In the clearing at the end of the trail, a number of Ladies' tresses, also a white orchid, dotted the grass.

Ladies' tresses, Spiranthes romanzoffiana.

The name, Ladies' tresses, was given to the orchid because it looks like braided hair, although it seems to me that it's more of a twist than a braid.

I've seen these in several places on the island, usually during a hot summer; then they were all taller plants than these. This year, maybe because of the weather, they were all small.

Small; under 6 inches tall.

One of the taller plants. Here the spiral arrangement of the flowers can be seen clearly.

These are both perennials, so I'll look for them again next year.

Next: one from the "Oddballs" section of my guide.


La última vez que visité el lago Hoomak, era a medio invierno. Ahora, al fin de un verano algo fresco, encontré unas plantas interesantes.

Primero; dos orquídeas. La primera la llamamos "llantén víbora de cascabel". Porque, aunque no es un llantén (Plantago sp.) se parece al que crece en nuestros jardines. Pero es una orquídea.

Hay varias orquídeas parecidas por el rumbo; éste se conoce por las hojas basales, que bien dicho, están pintadas con diseños parecidos a las pieles de la víbora de cascabel.

La segunda orquídea tiene en nombre en inglés de "Trenzas de dama" por la manera en que están ordenandas las flores, en espiral alrededor del tallo.

Las he visto en varias partes de la isla, en otros veranos, más calurosos; las plantas eran mucho más altos; crecen hasta los 50 cm, pero éstos apenas llegaban a 20, a lo máximo.

En el post siguiente, subiré una planta que se halla en la sección de mi guía que se titula "Bichos Raros".


  1. I thought , at first, the Spiranthes was Physostegia! (We called them 'obedient plants" because you could twist the flowers and they'd stay where twisted.

    1. I think I have seen the Physiostega on the mainland. There are no records that I can find of it on the island. Mainly, it's from the far side of the Rockies and points east. If I ever find one, I'll try to twist it!


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