One of my favorite things about being an observer for the National Phenology Network is that I often discover species I've never seen in the holler before living near the plants, birds and animals that I report on.
This week I found a downy rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera pubescans) growing along Hudson Branch. I had a tough time getting photos because it's growing in a fairly shady spot behind a little hemlock tree and some other riparian plants. Today when the sun was higher I went down into the holler again and got these pictures:
Downy rattlesnake plantain, September 5, 2013 [Photo credit: Cathie Bird]
This species is a member of the orchid family. One of its most striking features is the pattern and coloration of the leaves, which grow at the base of the plant:
A closer view of the evergreen rattlesnake plantain leaves. September 5, 2013 [Photo credit: Cathie Bird]
I think this individual has already done it's flowering thing. Here's a closer look at the flowering end of the plant:
Flowers of the rattlesnake plantain grow on a stalk that can rise from 6-20" above the rosette of leaves. September 5, 2013 [Photo credit: Cathie Bird]
The Connecticut Botanical Society page for the rattlesnake plantain has a couple of nice flower images.
I'll keep an eye out for this beautiful plant on future walks through the holler.