In the Grow

Bees, butterflies like turtlehead flowers

October 7, 2020

Q: I have a question about a perennial in our garden. Can you identify the plant in the attached photos, taken just a few weeks ago? – R.S., Indianapolis

Turtlehead plant

Photo provided by R.S., Indianapolis

Turtle head flower close up

Photo provided by R.S., Indianapolis

A: The plant in your photos is the native perennial called turtlehead, known botanically as Chelone. There are a few different species in commerce, including C. lyonii and C. obliqua, both with pink to purplish pink flowers, and white turtlehead (C. glabra). The name of the plant comes from the flowers thought to resemble a turtle’s head.

Turtlehead prefers moist conditions, part shade, but it can adapt to sunnier locations if moisture is sufficient. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers.

Some additional information on turtlehead at

https://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/wetland/plants/pink_turtlehead.htm

and

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CHELO