FIGWORT FAMILY - ScrophulariaceaŽ: Snake-head; Turtle-head; Balmony; Shellflower; Cod-head

Chelone glabra

Flowers--White tinged with pink, or all white, about 1 in. long, growing in a dense, terminal cluster. Calyx 5-parted, bracted at base; corolla irregular broadly tubular, 2-lipped; upper lip arched, swollen, slightly notched;, lower lip 3-lobed, spreading, woolly within; 5 stamens, 1 sterile, 4 in pairs, anther-bearing, woolly; 1 pistil. Stem: 1 to 3 ft. high, erect, smooth, simple, leafy. Leaves: Opposite, lance-shaped, saw-edged.

Preferred Habitat--Ditches, beside streams, swamps.

Flowering Season--July-September.

Distribution--Newfoundland to Florida, and half way across the continent.

It requires something of a struggle for even so strong and vigorous an insect as the bumblebee to gain admission to this inhospitable-looking flower before maturity; and even he abandons the attempt over and over again in its earliest stage before the little heart-shaped anthers are prepared to dust him over. As they mature, it opens slightly, but his weight alone is insufficient to bend down the stiff, yet elastic, lower lip. Energetic prying admits first his head, then he squeezes his body through, brushing past the stamens as he finally disappears inside. At the moment when he is forcing his way in, causing the lower lip to spring up and down, the eyeless turtle seems to chew and chew until the most sedate beholder must smile at the paradoxical show. Of course it is the bee that is feeding, though the flower would seem to be masticating the bee with the keenest relish! The counterfeit tortoise soon disgorges its lively mouthful, however, and away flies the bee, carrying pollen on his velvety back to rub on the stigma of an older flower.