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Snappy Little Turtleheads

An interesting native wildflower that grows naturally in wet meadows is chelone lyonii.

Chelone lyonii.

An interesting native wildflower that grows naturally in wet meadows is chelone lyonii.

With the common name of pink turtleheadchelone lyonii is a late-summer bloomer for moist areas of a garden and has flowers that look similar in shape to snapdragons. The tubular blooms actually do look like the head of a turtle with its mouth open, so the name is appropriate.

In one gardening catalog, (Oregon Forestfarm), the description of chelone is: “Imagine turtle lips; now imagine a lustrous rose pink lipstick…imagine the two together on 2 – 3 feet stems with deep green foliage that is bronzy when young. There is also the jaunty pearly-white turtlehead so watch your fingers!”

Turtlehead plants have six-inch long pointed leaves with small teeth along their edges. Grow these plants in full sun in a boggy site and in part shade in a moist site. Remember to stake them if they are grown in too much shade. Pinch the plants in early summer for bushy growth and more flowers. They will naturalize easily in zones 3-8 near streams and ponds.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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