Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)
Season: July to September
Habitat: Humus Covered Forest Floors in the Montane
Height: 10-45 cm
Description: Rattlesnake plantain is a perennial evergreen herb with a basal rosette of dark green leaves and a narrow spike of tiny orchid flowers.
Flower: This flower has inconspicuous orchid flowers that grow in a dense, one-sided (or spiraling) terminal spike (raceme). Each greenish-white flower has a hood formed by the upper petals and sepal. The lower lip is pouchlike and beaked. The flower is covered with glandular hairs.
Leaf: The dark green leaves for a basal rosette of broadly lanceolate leaves, 3-7 cm in length. They display a broad fold along the light coloured central vein. The remainder of the veins may also be light in colour as well.
Fruit/Seed: The seeds are contained in erect, egg-shaped capsules, 5-9 mm in length.
Similar Species: Dwarf rattlesnake plantain (G. repens) is a smaller plant, rarely taller than 25 cm, with leaves only 3-6 cm in length.
Range: Rattlesnake Plantain is common throughout south and central British Columbia and Alberta, east all the way to Nova Scotia and south to California, Arizona, Nevada, and Michigan.
Notes: The leaves sometime have scaly markings. To early settlers, this was a sign that the plant would be useful for treating snake bikes, hence the name rattlesnake plantain. Many native groups made use of the plant. In Okanagan-Colville culture, women wishing to get pregnant would split the leaves open and blow on them. Women would chew on the plant before and during childbirth. A poultice of the leaves was also useful for treating wounds. To the Thompson Indians, chewing the leaves helped to determine the gender of a child and to help ensure a smooth delivery.
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