PlantsChelone→Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Turtlehead
Give a thumbs up White Turtlehead
Give a thumbs up Turtle Bloom
Give a thumbs up Fishmouth
Give a thumbs up Shell Flower
Give a thumbs up Snake-Head
Give a thumbs up Balmony
Give a thumbs up Bitter Herb
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General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Herb/Forb
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Neutral (6.6 – 7.3)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 1.5 to 5 feet, usually 2 to 4 feet
Plant Spread: about 2 feet wide
Leaves: Other: 3 to 6" long, opposite, lanceolate, and toothed
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Lavender
White
Flower Time: Summer
Late summer or early fall
Uses: Cut Flower
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Flood Resistant
Propagation: Seeds: Needs specific temperature
Days to germinate: 14 to 30
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Pollinators: Moths and Butterflies
Bumblebees
Containers: Not suitable for containers
Miscellaneous: Monoecious

Image

Photo gallery:
Location: central IllinoisDate: 2019-08-26
By jmorth
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Credit: Jim Kingdom
By SongofJoy
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2011-09-19
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2011-09-19
By jmorth
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Location: Red River Gorge, KentuckyPhoto: Mason Brock
By SongofJoy
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2016-10-04
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2017-10-26
By jmorth
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Date: 2004-09-15Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
By SongofJoy
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Date: 2004-09-15Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
By SongofJoy
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Date: 2004-09-15Steven J. Baskauf http://bioimages.vanderbilt.edu/
By SongofJoy
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Courtesy Crownsville Nursery
By vic
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Photo courtesy of: Tom Potterfield
By admin
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2015-09-25
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2016-10-07
By jmorth
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Location: Canada
By Prosedda
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Location: Canada
By Prosedda
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Location: Vienna, VADate: 2017-10-09
By Muddy1
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Courtesy Crownsville Nursery
By vic
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2013-9-15
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2013-08-30
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 8-31-07
By jmorth
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Photo courtesy of: Tom Potterfield
By admin
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Photo courtesy of: Tom Potterfield
By admin
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Photo courtesy of: Tom Potterfield
By admin
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Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
By Joy
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Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
By Joy
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2015-04-12
By jmorth
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Photo Courtesy of Lazy S'S Farm Nursery.
By Joy
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Photo Courtesy of Lazy S'S Farm Nursery.
By Joy
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Photo Courtesy of Lazy S'S Farm Nursery.
By Joy
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2015-09-25
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2015-10-22
By jmorth
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Location: central IllinoisDate: 2016-10-05
By jmorth
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Location: Vienna, VADate: 2017-10-12
By Muddy1
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Location: Crows Nest Preserve in southeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2020-09-18several plants in the wild near a creek
By ILPARW
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Location: Crows Nest Preserve in southeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2020-09-18several plants in the wild near a creek
By ILPARW
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Location: Crows Nest Preserve in southeast PennsylvaniaDate: 2020-09-18flower cluster
By ILPARW
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Location: Tyler Arboretum in southeast PADate: 2015-08-27a plant in shade
By ILPARW
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Location: Tyler Arboretum in southeast PADate: 2011-08-24a planted mass
By ILPARW
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Location: Tyler Arboretum in southeast PADate: 2011-08-24leaves and flowers
By ILPARW
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Comments:
Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Apr 17, 2015 10:41 PM

The book "How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs William Starr Dana has the author appreciating this plant for always being where it is supposed to be. She remarks at finding flowers that are supposed to be in wet places being found in dry sites and vice versa. But not the Turtlehead. She states that she does not ever remember seeing a Turtlehead "which had not gotten as close to a stream or marsh or a moist ditch as it well could without actually wetting its feet." She considers the flowers more striking than pretty and calls their common name "fairly appropriate". She also tells of hearing "unbotanical people" calling them "white closed gentians."

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Sep 19, 2020 11:14 AM

Turtleheads are members of the Figwort Family (Scrophulariaceae) which includes Snapdragons that look similar. This perennial White Turtlehead is native to the Midwestern & Eastern US and southeast Canada in moist to wet soils in full sun to part-shade. It prefers a rich, organic soil as best. It does not do well with drought. It has fibrous roots. One can pinch or prune the plant down in May-June to keep it more compact. The Morton Arboretum recommends not cutting it down to the ground in fall. It is pollinated the most by Bumblebees, but some butterflies can also do it. The Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly likes to lay its eggs on the plant to bring forth caterpillars, which are the best food source for baby songbirds. It is supposed to be deer resistant, but one person here says it can be eaten by them. I have never seen this species sold by conventional nurseries or garden centers, which do sell cultivars of the Pink Turtlehead species that is native to the South US. It can be bought at some native plant nurseries as Prairie Nursery in WI and North Creek in PA and at some online mail order companies. It is a lovely perennial that should be used more.

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Posted by jmorth (central Illinois) on Dec 9, 2011 3:00 PM

The 2 lipped flowers resemble turtle heads. Distinctive flower shape reflected in genus name, a derivation of the greek chelone which means a tortoise.
A midwestern wildflower that lives in wet thickets, along streambanks and low ground.

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Posted by SongofJoy (Clarksville, TN - Zone 6b) on Jan 17, 2012 1:52 PM

Flowering in late summer and early fall, this plant has white snapdragon-like flowers on 2 to 4 foot tall stems. It occurs in moist, partly shaded places throughout the eastern US. In the garden, plant it in full sun to light shade in moist soil. An early summer pinching will keep it shorter and fuller.

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Posted by Catmint20906 (PNW WA half hour south of Olympia - Zone 8a) on Aug 23, 2014 1:28 PM

Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) is a larval host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly. The white blooms attract butterflies, as well as worker bumble bees and long-horned bees. Turtlehead may also attract hummingbirds.

Native to eastern North America, Turtlehead grows best in moist, rich soils in part shade. Deer consider Turtlehead to be quite tasty.

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Plant Events from our members
jmorth On August 25, 2014 Bloomed
Catmint20906 On September 19, 2015 Bloomed
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