Chelone obliqua

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 6 Professionals
Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: turtlehead
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Plantaginaceae
Native Range: United States
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Rosy purple, pink, or white.
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil


Best grown in moist to wet, rich, humusy soils in full sun to part shade. Appreciates a good composted leaf mulch, particularly in full sun areas. Consider pinching back the stem ends in spring to reduce mature plant height, especially if growing plants in strongly shaded areas where they are more likely to need some support. In optimum environments, however, staking is usually not required.

Noteworthy Characteristics

This species of turtlehead is a stiffly erect, clump-forming Missouri native perennial which typically grows 2-3' tall and occurs in moist woods, swampy areas and along streams. Hooded, snapdragon-like, two-lipped, deep rose flowers appear in tight, spike-like terminal racemes from late summer into autumn. Flowers purportedly resemble turtle heads. Coarsely-toothed, lance-shaped, dark green leaves.


No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to mildew, particularly if soils are kept on the dry side and/or air circulation is poor. If grown in too much shade, plants may need some support.

Garden Uses

Shade or woodland gardens. Bog gardens. Pond or water garden peripheries. Wildflower or native plant gardens. Borders as long as the soil moisture requirements can be met.