Common name: Turtlehead, chelone
Chelone obliqua blooms from late summer right through fall. This native perennial of eastern North America loves moist, shaded areas, stream banks and thickets. And the best is it has unusual turtle head-shaped flowers. The rose-pink clusters of blooms resemble open-mouthed turtles that sit atop 1 m/3 ft plants.
The genus name comes from the Greek word for tortoise and the specific epithet means lopsided - referring to the shape of the seed. Bees have to work hard to pollinate this plant. When the pollen is ready, the flower is still hard to pry open. Short video shows this process.
Chelone is in bed 34 of the Woodland Garden and bed 16 of the Eastern North America Garden. Both locations are right beside a path. You can get a good look at this unusual plant and see the bees struggle but eventually make it inside the flower.
Text and photos by Hughie Jones