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Chelone glabra

Chelone glabra L.

Chelone chlorantha Pennell & Wherry

Chelone glabra L. var. chlorantha (Pennell & Wherry) Cooperr.

Chelone glabra L. var. dilatata Fernald & Wiegand

Chelone glabra L. var. elatior Raf.

Chelone glabra L. var. elongata Pennell & Wherry

Chelone glabra L. var. linifolia Coleman

Chelone glabra L. var. ochroleuca Pennell & Wherry

Chelone glabra L. var. typica Pennell

Chelone montana (Raf.) Pennell & Wherry

Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyPlantaginaceaePlantains
GenusCheloneGreek for “tortoise” referring to shape of flower to tortoise head
SpeciesglabraSmooth or hairless

About plant names...

Turtlehead is said to be named for the tortoise-head-like shape of the flowers, and perhaps this is so. But I prefer to believe that it is named for the scaly-looking “neck” that contains developing flower buds. In any case, turtlehead is a North American native.

Identification: Turtleheads are fond of wet areas such as riverbanks. They are 12-36" (30-91 cm) tall, with flowerheads attached close to the central stem and a cone-shaped flowerhead on the top up to 3" (7.6 cm) high. Individual flowers are pale yellow or white, often tinged with pink, 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) long, looking a bit like a bent tube. On closer inspection, they are two shallow lobes above, and three below; the center lobe is “bearded.” Each flower is bilaterally symmetrical. Leaves are lance-shaped, up to 6" (15 cm) long × ½" (1.3 cm) wide, with serrated edges.

Medical: In the past, turtlehead has been used to treat indigestion or constipation; as an appetite stimulant, and as an anthimintic. Its leaves have been used to create a lotion for itching.

Online References:

Chelone glabra at Illinois Wildflowers

Chelone glabra on Missouriplants.com

Chelone glabra at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Chelone glabra at Botanical.com

Chelone glabra at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site

Chelone glabra at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Chelone glabra on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Chelone glabra at Minnesota Wildflowers

Chelone glabra at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

8/15/2010 · Willard Brook State Park, Blue Trail, Ashby, MA
≈ 8 × 6" (20 × 16 cm)

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

9/1/2010 · Beaver Brook Association Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 4½ × 7" (11 × 17 cm)

Chelone glabra description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 15 Oct 2013.

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Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

8/28/2013 · Pearl Hill State Park, Townsend, MA
≈ 6 × 5" (14 × 13 cm)

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

8/28/2010 · Lake Messalonskee, Belgrade Lakes Area, ME · By Constance B. Kent

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 12 × 8" (31 × 20 cm)

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

8/15/2010 · Willard Brook State Park, Blue Trail, Ashby, MA
≈ 12 × 9" (30 × 21 cm)

Chelone glabra (Turtlehead, Snake-head, Turtle-bloom, Shellflower, Bitter Herb, White Chelone, White Turtlehead)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Range:

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