Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead)
|Also known as:
|part shade, sun; wet meadows, along shores, wetlands
|August - September
|2 to 4 feet
|Wetland Indicator Status:
|GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):
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Flowers are in a densely packed spike at the top of the main stem and smaller spikes on stems arising from leaf axils in the upper part of the plant. Individual flowers are 1 to 1½ inches long, tubular with a 2-lobed hood-like upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip; the middle lower lobe is hairy. Flower color is creamy white, sometimes tinged pink. Flowers bloom from the bottom of the spike up.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 8 inches long and 1½ inches wide, hairless, tapering to a sharp point at the tip, and little or no leaf stem. Edges are sharply toothed. Attachment is opposite with a pair of leaves at right angles to the pair below it. The main stem is hairless and 4-sided.
The unusual flowers make this an easy plant to ID. Many references state that White Turtlehead only grows up to about 3 feet tall, but several plants at Battle Creek are easily 4 feet. The DNR also lists a pink-flowered species (C. obliqua) as native to Minnesota. Minnesota is on the far western edge of White Turtlehead's range. Like a number of other species formerly in the Scrophulariaceae (Figwort) family, Chelone has been reassigned to Plantaginaceae (Plantain).
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Battle Creek Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Aitkin counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?