Chelone glabra White Turtlehead Wildflower Seeds and Potted Plants
Easyliving Native Perennial Wildflowers Native
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|Bloom Period||Color||Height Inches||Moisture||Plant Spacing||Lifespan|
|Sun to Light Shade||August and September||White||24 to 48 Inches||Moist||8 to 24 Inches||Perennial|
usda hardiness zone 3 - 8 Butterflies host plant and butterfly Pollinators
Chelone glabra is a showy
herbaceous native wildflower and
Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds
Butterfly Larval Host plant for Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton
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Chelone glabra white turtlehead SEEDS are NOT available
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Chelone glabra white turtlehead Flower
Plant distribution map
complements of USDA, NRCS. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1
(http://plants.usda.gov). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
page not finished
information for page construction
This smooth plant has tight terminal clusters of white (often lavender-tinged) tubular, 2-lipped flowers resembling turtle heads. White turtlehead, a robust perennial, grows 1-4 ft. tall. Its erect stems end in spikes of white flowers, the shape of which suggests a turtle head. The leaves are elongate and arranged opposite eachother along the stem.
The distinctive shape of this flower is reflected in the genus name, derived from the Greek chelone (a tortoise).
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jul , Aug , Sep
USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , GA , IA ,
IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA
, RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf. to MN, s. to GA and n.e. AR
Native Habitat: Brushy marshes; stream banks; wet ditches; low meadows; woodlands
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade ,
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Light, rich, wet to moist soils.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Larval Host: Baltimore Checkerspot (Euphydryas phaeton).
Chelone glabra is a herbaceous plant found in wetlands and riparian forests of eastern North America with opposite, simple leaves, on stout, upright stems. The flowers are white, borne in late summer and early fall. It has been used as a method of birth control by Abenaki people.[
Its native range extends from Georgia to Newfoundland and Labrador and from Mississippi to Manitoba
It is the primary plant that the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly will lay its eggs on (although the butterfly to some extent will use a few other species).
C. glabra is also a foodplant for the sawflies Macrophya nigra (Norton) and Tenthredo grandis (Norton) (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae), (Stamp, 1984)
A flea beetle in the genus Dibolia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has also been shown to feed on C. glabra (Wilcox, 1979).
Chelone glabra is a popular browse plant for deer, although certain other plants such as Eurybia divaricata (white wood aster), Symphyotrichum prenanthoides (crooked-stem aster), and Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) are even more preferred by deer. In measuring damage to plants as a way of finding out the level of deer browsing, it is more effective to use a collection of deer browse species rather than just one.
Chelone glabra linifolia
Figwort family (Scrophulariaceae)
Description: This perennial plant is about 2-3' tall and unbranched or sparingly branched. The central stem is glabrous and either terete or 4-angled. Each pair of opposite leaves rotates 90° from the position of the pair of leaves immediately below. For var. linifolia of White Turtlehead, these leaves are less than ¾" across and they are linear-lanceolate in shape. However, the typical variety of White Turtlehead has some leaves greater than ¾" and they are lanceolate or oblong-lanceolate in shape. The leaves are hairless and finely serrated along their margins. At their bases, the leaves are sessile, or they have petioles that are less than ¼" in length. The central stem terminates in a dense spike of white flowers about 3-6" in length, blooming from the bottom to the top.
Each flower is
about 1¼" long, consisting of a 2-lipped white corolla, a green calyx with 5
oval teeth, a slender white style, and 5 hairy stamens. Four of these stamens
have fertile anthers, while the remaining stamen is sterile and green. The
tubular corolla is somewhat flattened at the mouth, where it is more wide than
tall. The upper lip of the corolla functions as a protective hood, while the
lower lip has 2-3 shallow lobes and functions as a landing pad for visiting
insects. The lower interior of the corolla has abundant white hairs. At the base
of the calyx, there are a few green bracts that resemble the sepals. The
blooming period occurs from late summer to fall and lasts about 1month. There is
no noticeable floral scent. Each flower is replaced by an ovoid seed capsule
containing several seeds that are flattened and broadly winged; these seeds can
be blown about by the wind and probably float on water. The root system consists
of a taproot and rhizomes. Vegetative colonies may form as a result of these
Cultivation: The preference is full or partial sun, wet to moist conditions, and a fertile soil containing some organic matter. Temporary flooding is tolerated. This plant can be maintained in gardens if it is watered during dry spells.
Range and Habitat: The native
White Turtlehead occurs occasionally in central and northern Illinois, but it is
rare in the southern part of the state. The typical variety of this species is
more abundant than var. linifolia. Habitats include open woodlands in
floodplain areas, thickets in floodplain areas, wet prairies, sedge meadows,
seeps, springs, marshes, and fens. These habitats can be either sandy or
non-sandy. White Turtlehead is an indicator plant of fens, where the ground
water ranges from slightly acid to alkaline, but it occurs in other high quality
wetland habitats as well.
Faunal Associations: The flowers are pollinated by nectar-seeking bumblebees; sometimes they also attract the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. In the northern half of Illinois, White Turtlehead is the preferred host for caterpillars of the butterfly Euphydryas phaeton phaeton (Baltimore). This butterfly is fairly uncommon. Other insects that feed on the foliage of White Turtle include leaf-mining larvae of the flea beetle Diabolia chelones, larvae of the sawfly Tenthredo grandis, and larvae of the sawfly Macrophya nigra. The seeds are eaten by larvae of the fly Phytomyza chelonei and larvae of the polyphagous moth Endothenia hebesana, while larvae of Papaipema nepheleptena (Turtlehead Borer Moth) bore through the stems (Clark et al. 2004, Smith 2006, Eastman, 1995). The foliage is bitter and usually avoided by White-Tailed Deer and other mammalian herbivores.
Comments: The interesting flowers of this species resemble the head of a turtle, hence the common name. Because of these unique flowers, Chelone spp. (turtleheads) are easy to distinguish from other groups of plants. Among the turtleheads occurring in the Midwest, White Turtlehead is unique in having white flowers (although they are sometimes tinted light pink or pale purple). It also has more narrow leaves than other turtleheads, which is especially pronounced in var. linifolia, as illustrated in the photograph of the leaves. The other turtlehead species that occurs in Illinois, Chelone obliqua (Pink Turtlehead), has pink flowers and broader leaves with longer petioles (these petioles exceed ¼" in length). This species is uncommon and usually occurs in damp wooded habitats.