Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)

Common names:
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Give a thumbs up Snake-Head

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
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 5a -28.9 °C (-20 °F) to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)
Plant Height: 1.5 to 5'
Leaves: Other: 3 to 6" long, opposite, lanceolate, and toothed
Flowers: Showy
Flower Color: Lavender
Flower Time: Summer
Late summer or early fall
Uses: Cut Flower
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Seeds: Needs specific temperature: 65 to 70
Days to germinate: 14 to 30
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Containers: Not suitable for containers


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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 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 (Maryland - Zone 7a) 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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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
This was given to us, but I have no idea what it is by nestof3 Oct 9, 2017 3:38 PM 22
Chicagoland Annual garden swap 2017 by oerickson Aug 25, 2017 10:41 AM 303
Wildflower ID by upat5 Sep 16, 2016 7:54 PM 14
Garden Chat and Photos by Catmint20906 Jan 2, 2016 11:47 AM 3,043
Chelone - Turtlehead seedlings sprouting by JuliaNY Jul 23, 2014 9:18 PM 10

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