A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from church described to me some plants he had seen in his woods. He wanted to know if I could identify them. One of them I nailed from the description as Wild Sarsaparilla, which I wrote about yesterday. The other two I couldn’t guess from the description.

Today at church I brought him a little of the tea I had brewed yesterday, and he brought in the two specimens which he (or his wife) had potted. The first was Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata).

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


I had never seen it before in real life, but I did know that it shares the Chimaphila genus with the pipsissewa (C. umbellata) I wrote about earlier this week. See how similar the flowers are?
Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)

Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila umbellata)


Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata)

The second plant had me somewhat befuddled. It looked kind of plantain-ish, but the leaves were starkly variegated. He had described it as looking like a spider web, but his wife thought it looked more like snakeskin. If I had put two and two together, I would have had its id, but this is another I had never seen before:

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens)


When I got home I found it in short order in one of my field guides: Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera pubescens). Nice.

He gave me the Rattlesnake Plantain, and I am going to plant it somewhere in my woods. I’m not sure where I’ll put it, but I will put it in the shade since that’s where he had found it.

From what I read about it, this plant is more common in southern New England. Also, because the leaves reminded the Native Americans of snake skin, they used it to treat snakebite (though not efficaciously). The shape or appearance of a plant being similar to a diseased organ (such as the liver in the case of liverwort) or a disease cause (such as a snake in the case currently under consideration) is not generally a reliable indicator of its pharmaceutical virtues.

When we got home from church, and after we had some lunch, Beth, David, and I took Penny down to Sandogardy Pond. There were some new blooms there too:

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)

Virginia Marsh St. Johnswort (Triadenum virginicum)


Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)

Water Lobelia (Lobelia dortmanna)


Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)

Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus)


I especially liked the way this last photo turned out.