Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead)

Tried and True Native Plant Selections for the Mid-Atlantic

Print Version (Legal Size): Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead)

This video requires no introduction, but if you don’t grow Chelone in your garden, maybe it will inspire you to plant some. Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) is the primary host for Baltimore checkerspot butterflies. Video © Mary Free

This robust native perennial occurs frequently throughout the Mid-Atlantic in moist woods, swamps, and stream banks. With snapdragon-like flowers, which resemble turtle heads, the plant is named for Chelone (rhymes with “baloney”), a nymph of Greek mythology who was punished by being turned into a tortoise.

Print Version (Legal Size): Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead)
Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead) Perennial Height: 1–4 feet, Spread: 11⁄2 –21⁄2 feet, Bloom Color: White, tinged with pink/lavender, Characteristics Clump-forming herbaceous perennial, Sharply toothed, lance-shaped, dark green leaves on stout, erect stems, Showy hooded, two-lipped white flowers in tight spike-like racemes from July to October, Ovoid seed capsules, Attributes Tolerates erosion, wet soil, temporary flooding No serious pests or diseases Deer occasionally severely damage Staking usually not needed except in excess shade Attracts bumble bees, butterflies, hummingbirds; larval host for Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly Growing and Maintenance Tips Soil Requirements: Humus-rich Light Requirements: Sun, Partial Shade Water Requirements: Moist, Wet Maintain good air circulation and soil moisture to prevent mildew; mulch in sunny areas Pinch back stems in spring to reduce plant height, especially if grown in shade Use in shade, woodland, bog, or rain gardens Hardiness: USDA Zones 3–8 Excellent Replacement for Lysimachia clethroides - Gooseneck LoosestrifeLearn more about other Mid-Atlantic plants: Tried and True Plant Fact Sheets