I have finished collecting all the seeds I intend to collect this fall and have picked over and done preliminary cleaning on most of them. I will be posting a list of the available species soon.

Pink Turtlehead

Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) — pictured above — seeds will be available this year. I almost gave up on this species. It is not native to Canada but native to eastern USA and it is generally available in garden centres, so I was willing to let it go. It ripens its seeds so late in the year I had never been able to collect good seed from my plants. However, this summer’s heat and the long, open fall weather produced a good crop of seeds.

Nothing replaces the locally native White Turtlehead (C. glabra) as a host for the caterpillars of the beautiful Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies. Baltimores lay eggs on White Turtlehead and the young caterpillars eat only White Turtlehead. The caterpillars overwinter at the third instar stage. The following spring, however, the larger (and very hungry) fourth and fifth instar caterpillars will eat White Turtlehead and several closely related plants, including Pink Turtlehead and Hairy Beardtongue.

Pink Turtlehead is showier as a garden flower than is White, not only because of the colour but also because it often has more flowers open at once on a stalk. It is also a bit shorter and less dependent on constant moisture, although it too does like a moist soil. If you have an appropriate spot for White Turtlehead, do plant several for the Baltimore Checkerspot butterflies, but you might also like to include some Pink Turtlehead in a nearby flower border, to provide additional food resources for the larger caterpillars.

Seed pods of Pink Turtlehead, waiting to be cleaned.

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