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Chelone lyonii (Pink turtlehead)
Cressler, Alan

Chelone lyonii

Chelone lyonii Pursh

Pink Turtlehead

Scrophulariaceae (Figwort Family)


USDA Symbol: CHLY2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Pink turtlehead produces large, interesting flowers in a terminal raceme atop a 2-4 ft. stem. A tall erect plant with pink or rose-purple, tubular, 2-lipped flowers resembling turtle heads in compact clusters atop stems or in axils of opposite leaves. Flowers, the shape of which suggest a turtle head, are bearded with tiny yellow hairs on the lower lip. Dark-green leaves are broadly lance-shaped and arranged in pairs along the stem.

This species occasionally escapes from cultivation in New England and elsewhere. The common name honors John Lyon, an early-19th-century American botanist.


From the Image Gallery

6 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 4 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Yellow , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct


USA: AL , CT , MA , ME , MS , NC , NY , SC , TN , WV
Native Distribution: Mts. of e. TN & AL to w. NC & SC
Native Habitat: Rich coves; spruce-fir forests; open stream banks

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Light, rich, moist or wet soils.
Conditions Comments: Needs stout companions to support the slender stems. This species native range is quite small. It has naturalized as an escape from cultivation throughout the Northeast.


Description: Plant seeds outside in fall or moist-chill and plant in spring. Seedlings germinate after one year and flower after two. Roots can be divided in early spring or late fall with the plant is dormant. Space divisions 18 in. apart. Make stem cuttings in
Seed Collection: The papery capsule turns darker shades of brown when the seeds approach maturity. The seeds are usually ready for harvest at or near the first frost. Air-dry the capsules, separate the seeds and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Moist-chill stored seeds six weeks prior to sowing.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Chelone lyonii in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chelone lyonii in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chelone lyonii


Record Modified: 2022-12-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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