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Rattlesnake Plantain

    Scientific Names

    Rattlesnake Plantain
    • Goodyera pubescens L.
    • Orchid family

    Common Names

    ivyAdder’s violet
    ivyDowny rattlesnake plantain
    ivyNet-leaf plantain
    ivyRattlesnake weed
    ivyScrofula weed
    ivySpotted plantain
    ivyWater plantain
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    Parts Usually Used

    Leaves, rootstock
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Rattlesnake plantain is a perennial plant to 16 inches in flower; the fleshy, creeping rootstock produces dark green, basal, ovate leaves with networks of white veins. A glandular-hairy flower stalk with leaf-like, lanceolate scales bears a spike-like raceme of white or greenish-white flowers from July to September.
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    Where Found

    Native to evergreen woods and rich soils of the eastern United States. Maine to Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, to western Quebec.
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    Medicinal Properties

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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    This information is of historical interest only. The plant is too scarce to harvest.
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    The fresh leaves and root make an external application for scrofulous sores, skin rashes, bruises, and insect bites. Native Americans used root tea for pleurisy, snakebites; leaf tea was taken (with whiskey) to improve appetite, treat colds, kidney ailments, blood tonic, toothaches. Externally, leaf poultice used to cool burns, treat skin ulcers. Physicians once used fresh leaves steeped in milk as a poultice for tuberculous swelling of lymph nodes, scrofula. Fresh leaves were applied every 3 hours, while the patient drank a tea of the leaves at the same time.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    If desired, the leaves and/or roots can be soaked in milk and then made into a poultice.
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    This plant is rare; do not harvest.
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    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

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