White Turtlehead: Wildflower Wednesday

– Posted in: Native/Invasive

White turtlehead (Chelone glabra) is one of those wildflowers that is easy to overlook. For one thing, when it blooms, much showier plants such as Joe Pye Weed, goldenrod, and flat-topped white aster are also blooming, and they tend to steal the spotlight.

Joe Pye weed, flat-topped white aster, and goldenrod are all blooming in this wet meadow.

Joe Pye weed, flat-topped white aster, and goldenrod are all blooming in this wet meadow. Can you spot the turtlehead?

Also, by the time it blooms, the plants may not look so good. I had to really hunt to find one with the undamaged green leaves that you see above. The one below was much more typical:
White turtlehead (Chelone glabra) seed heads

Well-chewed and yellowed foliage is the more typical condition of turtlehead in a wet meadow. You can see slightly out-of-focus seed heads in this picture.

Who’s been nibbling on my turtlehead? I haven’t caught any caterpillars in the act of eating, but white turtlehead is one of the key larval plants for the Baltimore checkerspot. Even though humble, and even when tattered, white turtlehead certainly belongs in a wet meadow, such as we have on our land.

Posted for Wildflower Wednesday, created by Gail of Clay and Limestone, to share wildflowers/native plants no matter where you garden in the blogosphere. “It doesn’t matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. It’s always the fourth Wednesday of the month!”

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

When dealing with frost it is always best to be paranoid. In the spring never think it is too late for one more frost to come. And in the fall never think it too early.

~Rundy in Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern September 3, 2014, 7:07 am

So nice to see a flower in its natural setting! It looks like it belongs. I think many gardens look out of place regardless of the plants – showy or not. I have Pink Turtlehead and it is in full bloom. It is tucked in a moist corner in my “Woodland Edge” off my back porch and from here it is a show. I’ll have to look closely at its leaves.

Alana September 1, 2014, 8:20 pm

A couple of years ago I bought a pink turtlehead from a vendor at a farmers market in Asheville, NC. He assured me he does not harvest plants from the wild so I bought four of his plants. This plant is lovely in my backyard. I didn’t know there was a white variety.

Frank September 1, 2014, 3:16 pm

I bet your wet meadow is the perfect home for a lot of unusual things…. all the things which hate my yard!
I came across a white turtlehead a few days ago while looking at Joe Pye weed. You’re right in that I also walked right by it before recognizing it!

Donna@GardensEyeView September 1, 2014, 12:23 pm

I agree Kathy it can be an overlooked plant but I love it. I have to go looking for mine amongst the jungle in my garden this year…I know the deer sometimes nibble mine, but I would love a caterpillar/butterfly to partake of it as well.

Gail September 1, 2014, 6:48 am

It is hard to spot amidst the taller showier plants, but it’s a cutie pie. I don’t have luck growing it, but, then I have a much drier garden! xo