Close up of white chelone glabra flower.
Green foliage of a group of chelone glabra (Turtlehead) plants.

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead)

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Chelone glabra, commonly referred to as turtlehead or white turtlehead, is a native perennial named for its uniquely-shaped showy white flowers, which some say resemble the head of a turtle. Turtlehead typically grows to between two and six feet tall, though usually toward the shorter end of that range, with a spread of one to two feet wide. Chelone glabra is capable of slowly spreading through an area by way of its rhizomatic roots, but these thick roots can also help in wetland restoration and erosion control.

White turtlehead is typically found in swamps, marshes, shorelines of ponds and creeks, and other naturally wetter areas with full sun, though it is tolerant of more shaded conditions. Chelone glabra's white turtle-head-shaped flowers bloom from mid summer into the early fall, and are attractive to pollinators, but especially hummingbirds and butterflies, including the Baltimore checkerspot butterfly, which is considered rare in Maryland.

Closely related to other species of Chelone, C. glabra is even more tolerant of wet conditions than its relatives C. lyonii (pink turtlehead) and C. obliqua (red turtlehead).

Native to Maryland, Native to U.S., Straight Species, and Native to Eastern Shore
Mature Plant Height: Short: 12-29" and Medium: 30-48"
Sun (6+ hours) and Part Shade/Sun (4-6 hours of sun)
Soil Moisture: Wet and Well-drained
Soil Type: Rich Organic Matter and Loam
Bloom Time: Summer and Fall
Flower Color: White
Foliage color: Green
Features: Attracts Butterflies, Attracts Hummingbirds, Host Plant for Butterflies or Moths, Erosion Control, and Fall Color
Tolerances: Shade Tolerant, Wet Soil Tolerant, Flood Tolerant, Deer Tolerant, and Rabbit Tolerant
Garden Type: Pollinator Garden, Rain Garden, Woodland Garden, Small Space, and Meadow

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