I do a lot of hiking, mostly to observe native plants in their natural surroundings. I am surprised at the places I have found white turtlehead, in the Adirondacks, near a mountain lake and here in Springwater it was in the woods behind our first home. In western New York it is found in the inlets to lakes and in swampy areas by the side of the road.
The common name turtlehead is self explanatory once you see this plant in flower. It resembles the shape of a turtle's head. It flowers in late summer into the fall. The flower colors vary from clear white to creamy white to white tinged with pink.
The plant grows 2 to 3 feet tall and stands erect. The flowers open along the stem from bottom to top and flowers for quite a long period of time. Butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators use this plant. White turtlehead is also a larval host plant for the Baltimore checker spot butterfly. This makes it a great plant for the pollinator garden.
White turtlehead is a wonderful plant to use around a pond or in a wet area that you no longer want to mow. It grows in full sun in a wet area or in shade in regular garden soil. white turtlehead is a long lived plant that stays nice looking throughout the summer. The leaves are dark green, elongated and sit opposite each other on the square stem of the plant. In a shady area in the late summer sometimes you see a little powdery mildew on the leaves. The plant forms clumps and adds beauty to the garden.
White turtlehead is a great companion to red cardinal flower, great blue lobelia, green coneflower, turks cap lily, swamp milkweed and blue flag iris. In the wild you often see it with Joe-pye weed too. These plants will withstand moist soils, but will work in a garden setting where soils are drier too. They all make great pollinator plants. These plants grow together in nature. Use white turtlehead to help you achieve an ecologically sound and beautiful garden.
Chelone glabra - White turtlehead
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