John and Gerry's    Orchids of Britain and Europe
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Goodyera repens

G. repens was first described by Brown from Bavaria in 1753 and repens literally means creeping, which
refers to the spreading nature of the stolons (the above ground modified stems which serve as the means of colonization). The orchids common name is Creeping Ladies Tresses but is also less widely known as the Rattlesnake Plantain, a reference to its resemblance to the tail of a rattlesnake.

This is a widespread species found in most of the countries of continental Europe and Britain, though absent from any of the Mediterranean islands. It is not common anywhere within its range and populations are always dispersed and local. G. repens appears to be slowly declining in its traditional habitat of mature, coniferous forest but concurrently colonising new territory amongst Europes newly created conifer plantations.

G, repens is an evergreen species, confined to coniferous woodland on acidic and occasionally mildly alkaline soils where it can tolerate even deep shade. It has been found in broad leaf woodland but this is most uncommon and only in damp conditions that promote the mosses with which it closely associates. This species is very similar to orchids of the Spiranthes genus although confusion is most unlikely due to the very different habitat preferences. The leaves are a deep glossy green with white, net like veining covering the surfaces, this distinctiveness enables accurate identification even in non flowering plants.

The flowers are held alternately up and around the stem but as the inflorescence matures, each individual floret twists forward such that the flower spike looks to be one sided. The illustrations come from Strathspey, Scotland and date from the beginning of August.