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For Your Garden - May 2020

Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.

white turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Photo © John Hilty

White turtlehead grows in wet soil, bogs, fens and marshes. It is more commonly found in the northern half of the state than in the southern half. Flowers are produced from July through October. The flowers are produced in a cluster at the stem tip. Petals are white and in a tubular shape with two divisions. The upper section overhangs the lower section and acts to protect it. The lower section is a landing area for insects. This arrangement is said to resemble a turtle's head. The plant may grow to two to three feet in height and is a good species to plant for pollinators.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Scrophulariales
Family: Scrophulariaceae

Illinois Status: common, native