white turtlehead

(Chelone glabra)

Conservation Status
white turtlehead
 
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
Wetland Indicator Status
     
  Great Plains

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Midwest

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
  Northcentral & Northeast

OBL - Obligate wetland

     
           
 
Description
 
 

White turtlehead is a 20 to 32 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on a single stem from a taproot and rhizomes. It sometimes forms colonies.

The stems are erect and hairless. They are square but have rounded angles, sometimes causing the stem to appear round. They are usually unbranched, sometimes sparingly branched above the middle.

The leaves are opposite and short stalked or stalkless. Each pair of opposite leaves is rotated 90 degrees from the pair below. The leaf blade is unlobed, linear to lance egg-shaped, up to 6 long, and to 1¼ wide. They taper to a sharp point at the tip. The upper and lower surfaces are hairless. The margins are finely toothed with sharp, outward- or forward-pointing teeth.

The inflorescence is a dense, 1¼ to 3 long spike of flowers at the end of the stem. The spike is subtended by a pair of slightly smaller leaves. Each flower is subtended by a few modified leaves (bracts) that resemble the sepals.

The flowers are 1 to 1 long. There are 5 sepals, 5 petals, 4 fertile stamens, 1 infertile stamen (staminode), and 1 style. The sepals are green. They are fused at the base then deeply separated into 5 broadly elliptic lobes. The petals are white, sometimes partly greenish-yellow, sometimes tinged with pink or purple toward the tip. They are fused at the base into a long tube with a shallowly 2-lobed upper lip and a shortly 3-lobed lower lip. The tube is much longer than the lobes. The upper lip arches downward. It is said to resembe the head of a turtle, giving this plant its common name. The middle lobe of the lower lip is elevated and partially or almost completely encloses the throat. The upper surface is covered with long, soft, shaggy, white hairs. The fertile stamens have flat, hairy filaments and densely hairy anthers. The sterile staminode is green and is much shorter and narrower than the stamens. The flowers are not fragrant.

The fruit is an egg-shaped seed capsule with numerous seeds.

 
     
 

Height

 
 

20 to 32

 
     
 

Flower Color

 
 

White

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wet. Streambanks, wet meadows, open wet woodlands, sedge meadows, marshes. Full sun to partial shade.

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Flowering

 
 

July to September

 
     
 

Faunal Associations

 
 

White turtlehead is the primary, but not only, plant on which the Baltimore checkerspot lays its eggs.

 
     
 
Use
 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 30

 
  4/17/2021      
         
 

Nativity

 
 

Native

 
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  
 

Order

Lamiales (mints, plantains, olives, and allies)  
 

Family

Plantaginaceae (plantain)  
  Tribe Cheloneae  
  Genus Chelone (turtlehead)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Chelone chlorantha

Chelone glabra var. chlorantha

Chelone glabra var. dilatata

Chelone glabra var. elatior

Chelone glabra var. elongata

Chelone glabra var. glabra

Chelone glabra var. linifolia

Chelone glabra var. ochroleuca

Chelone glabra var. typica

Chelone montana

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

balmony

bitter herb

codhead

fish mouth

shellflower

snake mouth

snakehead

turtle bloom

turtlehead

white turtlehead

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Bract

Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.

 

Filament

On plants: The thread-like stalk of a stamen which supports the anther. On Lepidoptera: One of a pair of long, thin, fleshy extensions extending from the thorax, and sometimes also from the abdomen, of a caterpillar.

 

Linear

Long, straight, and narrow, with more or less parallel sides, like a blade of grass.

 

Rhizome

A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

 

Sepal

An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

 

Staminode

A modified stamen that produces no pollen. It often has no anther.

       
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Bill Reynolds
       
  white turtlehead    
       
       
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
   

Plant

  white turtlehead   white turtlehead
       

Inflorescence

  white turtlehead   white turtlehead
       

Flower

  white turtlehead    
       
       

 

Camera

     
Slideshows
   
  Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)  
     
  Bio Regional Herbalism Turtle Head Patricia Kyritsi Howell
SylvanBotanical
 
   
 
About

Published on Oct 30, 2012

In this installment of our Bio-Regional Herbalism Series, Patricia Kyritsi Howell discusses Turtle Head (Chelone glabra).

 
     

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Minnesota Native Plant - White Turtlehead (Chelone Glabra)
MNNativePlants
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 29, 2013

This video is of the White Turtlehead (Chelone Glabra), a beautiful white flower for your native garden or near water features.

   
       
  Identifying WhiteTurtlehead, Chelone glabra
MyNatureApps
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jan 29, 2012

How to identify White Turtlehead, Chelone glabra. www.mynatureapps.com

   
       
  Bee in Turtlehead flower (Chelone glabra)
Mark Bellis
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 9, 2013

No description available.

   
       
  Duke Gardens Spring 2010 Plant & Craft Fest preview: white turtlehead
spdgevents
   
   
 
About

Uploaded on Apr 20, 2010

Stefan Bloodworth talks about white turtlehead (Chelone glabra), one of myriad plants for sale April 24, 2010, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Spring Plant & Craft Festival. Bloodworth is curator of the Blomquist Garden of Native Plants at Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham. Info: sarahpdukegardens.org

   
       

 

Camcorder

         
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Bill Reynolds
8/8/2003

Location: St. Louis Co. MN

 

white turtlehead


     
     
 
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