Chelone glabra

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White turtlehead
Chelone glabra Red River Gorge.JPG

Secure (NatureServe)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Plantaginaceae
Genus: Chelone
Species: C. glabra
Binomial name
Chelone glabra

Chelone glabra (white turtlehead) is a plant. Its classification has in the past been controversial,[1] but as a result of DNA sequence studies, it is now regarded as belonging to family Plantaginaceae (the plantain family).[2]



Chelone glabra is a herbaceous plant found in wetlands and riparian forests [3] of eastern North America with opposite, simple leaves, on stout, upright stems. The flowers are white, borne in late summer and early fall. It has been used as a method of birth control by Abenaki people.[4][unreliable source?]

Its native range extends from Georgia to Newfoundland and Labrador and from Mississippi to Manitoba.[5]

It is the primary plant on which the Baltimore Checkerspot Butterfly will lay its eggs (although the butterfly to some extent will use a few other species).[6][7]

C. glabra is also a foodplant for the sawflies Macrophya nigra (Norton) and Tenthredo grandis (Norton) (Hymenoptera: Tenthredinidae), (Stamp, 1984).[8]

A flea beetle in the genus Dibolia (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae) has also been shown to feed on C. glabra (Wilcox, 1979).[9]

Use as indicator of deer browse in riparian forests[edit]

Chelone glabra is a popular browse plant for deer, although certain other plants such as Eurybia divaricata (white wood aster), Symphyotrichum prenanthoides (crooked-stem aster), and Impatiens capensis (orange jewelweed) are even more preferred by deer. In measuring damage to plants as a way of finding out the level of deer browsing, it is more effective to use a collection of deer browse species rather than just one.[3]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Williams, C (2000). "Use of turtlehead (Chelone glabra L.) and other herbaceous plants to assess intensity of white-tailed deer browsing on Allegheny Plateau riparian forests, USA" (PDF). Biological Conservation. 92 (2): 207. doi:10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00054-3. 
  4. ^ "Plants Native to the State of Maine". 
  5. ^ "Chelone glabra". PLANTS. 
  6. ^ M. Deane Bowers, Nancy E. Stamp and Sharon K. Collinge (April 1992). "Early Stage of Host Range Expansion by a Specialist Herbivore, Euphydryas Phaeton (Nymphalidae)". Ecology. Ecological Society of America. 73 (2): 526–536. doi:10.2307/1940758. JSTOR 1940758. 
  7. ^ Euphydryas phaeton (Drury, 1773), Butterflies and Moths of North America
  8. ^ Stamp, N.E. (1984). Effect of defoliation by checkerspot caterpillars (Euphydryas phaeton) and sawfly larvae (Macrophya nigra and Tenthredo grandis) on their host plants (Chelone spp.). Oecologia 63:275–280.
  9. ^ Wilcox, J.A. (1979). Leaf beetle host plants in northeastern North America. World Natural History Publications, Kinderhook, NY.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]