Today “Elizabeth’s Wildflower Blog” is really “Elizabeth’s Native Plant Blog”, because although Chelone glabra is common and found almost everywhere in Maryland, I’ve never seen it in the wild. These photos are of a specimen in my garden.
Also known as white turtlehead, this plant is in the Plantaginaceae, or plantain family. Older sources and many on-line sources place it in the Scrophulariaceae, but that family was gutted by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group.
The plants stand two to three feet tall, often with a single central stem but sometimes with a branch or two. As you can see, pruning (by rabbits, darn them) seems to encourage branching. The flowers are borne on terminal spikes, and have two petals, the upper one forming a hood over the lower one, which sometimes has two or three faint lobes.
White turtlehead like wet soils in open woodlands, and ranges east of the Mississippi River from the upper South northwards into Canada; west of the Mississippi it’s found in parts of Missouri and Minnesota. It’s listed as exploitably vulnerable in New York.
Not only have I never seen this plant in the wild, I’ve also never seen a Baltimore checkerspot. I had hoped to, because white turtlehead is their host plant. Fortunately turtlehead also attracts bumblebees. They crawl all the way up into the flower and stay for a minute or more. You can’t even tell there’s a bee in a flower except for the shaking that happens as the bee does its thing.
Happy 2nd Birthday to my blog! I’m celebrating by changing the look. Also by upgrading the account. OK, actually it’s not celebrating; I’ve uploaded so many pictures that I ran out of space, so I had to upgrade.
young fronds of ebony spleenwort
I’m also celebrating by re-posting some favorite photos. Enjoy.
eastern tiger swallowtail (male) and bumblebee on buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) in late July, banks of the Potomac River in view of the American Legion Bridge
Plants first seen blooming in the month of Octboer:
small wood sunflower
wild marjoram (alien)
And since I don’t expect to find anything new in November (unless I find witch hazel; I know it’s out there), the 2014 totals are:
276 native species in 77 families
75 alien species in 30 families
for a grand total of 351 species in 81 families, along the Potomac River and C&O Canal from Violette’s Lock south to the American Legion Bridge, and the last mile of Cabin John Creek. Oh, and that’s not including the 5 asters, 5 violets, 7 grasses, and a few others that I was never able to narrow down to the species level.
Not too shabby.
ps – found witch hazel (fotd yesterday), but not in the Potomac gorge area.