Chelone glabra Indiana Dunes

Family:     Plantaginaceae (Plantain family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     60-120 cm (2-4 ft)

Blooming: Aug.-Sept.


White Turtlehead

Chelone glabra  L.

Flowers: white or vanilla (sometimes pink tinged) turtlehead shaped flower.

Leaves: are 4-15 times as long as broad oppositely arranged.  They can grow up to 15 cm (6 in) long.  The leaves have teeth and no hair.

Fruits: an egg shaped capsule holding winged seeds.

Sun:  Full sun or part shade.

Ideal Conditions: Thrives in moist to dry soils in shade or partial shade.

INPAWS Native Communities: Woodland (shade); Water's edge (sun).

White turtlehead Indiana Dunes

Comments:  White turtlehead is the only Chelone in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  

Etymology:  Chelone (Χελώνη) - meaning "turtle" in Greek - was a mythological mountain nymph whose mischief or late arrival at Zeus' wedding caused the nymph to be cursed making her carry her house with her wherever she went (a tortoise). Glabra is Latin for "hairless" or "smooth".

Chelone glabra seed

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape:  White turtlehead makes a nice addition to your rain garden or larger wet areas. Stays under 3 ft, but in great conditions can reach 4 ft. Host plant for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. This plant is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also an important part of the butterfly's lifecycle.

Species Present and Native