December 5, 2019

The Turtles Have It

Joy Meyers Photo | Chelone - turtlehead

Joy Meyers Photo | Chelone – turtlehead

The genus Chelone is probably best recognized by the flowers from whence its common name is derived: turtlehead. The blossoms’ unique shape is similar across the genus’ four species as all resemble the head of a turtle. All four species also are native to eastern North America. C. glabra covers the largest territory, stretching from Georgia to Newfoundland and ranging from Mississippi to Manitoba. It grows wild here in Maine. C. lyonii is found in the Blue Ridge Mountains, while C. cuthbertii is found in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina and parts of coastal Virginia. Also found in the Blue Ridge is C. obliqua, with some populations stretching from Tennessee to Arkansas and Michigan and another in the coastal plain from South Carolina to Maryland. Like turtles, the more common C. glabra prefers streambanks and damp ground, reaching upwards of 3 feet in height and flowering from July to September with white to pink blooms.

Submitted by Joy Meyers