Chelone glabra L. – White Turtlehead

Photo: Graham Page
Photo: Graham Page

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General: Perennial herb; stems erect, slender, hairless, four-sided, 30─90 cm tall; branches erect.


Leaves: Opposite, sharply toothed, short-stalked, narrowly to broadly lance-shaped, slender-pointed at tip, tapered to base, 7─20 cm long, 1─4 cm wide.


Flowers: White or pinkish, tubular, two-lipped, about 2.5 cm long; upper lip concave; lower lip three-lobed, hairy within; in dense, hairless spikes at stem tip and from leaf axils. July to September.


Fruits: Ovoid capsules, about 1.2 cm long, with many flattened winged seeds).


Where found: In swamps, marshes, wet woods, thickets, ditches, stream banks and lakeshores; from southeastern Manitoba to Newfoundland, south to Missouri and Georgia.


Notes: This species is usually only available for sale by special request; a related species, Red or Pink Turtlehead (Chelone obliqua), which is native to the Midwestern and Southeastern United States, is more readily available at local garden centres.




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