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
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.
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 description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.