Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

About Flora Pittsburghensis

UPDATE: The site has switched to a new format that allows easier access to the picture files. See “Using these pictures” below.

The city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs are full of wild flowers, and somebody needs to take their pictures. The main purpose of this collection is simply to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.

Nevertheless, our enjoyment of the natural world is deeper the more we know about it, which is the reason for the commentary and the attempt at a correct botanical classification of each subject.

The entries are categorized by their families. When a plant is commonly found in more than one family in different classification schemes, or where there is more than one name for the same family, the plant is assigned to multiple categories. Thus, for example, snapdragons were formerly classified in the family Scrophulariaceae, but (with modern genetic study) have recently been moved to the family Plantaginaceae; they appear here under both families.

Quotations from Gray’s Manual are from the posthumous seventh edition (1908), heavily edited and updated by Benjamin Lincoln Robinson and Merritt Lyndon Fernald.  Where Gray’s classification differs from that used by current botanists, the difference is noted.

Some plants that have recently been reclassified are so familiar under their old botanical names that they are listed here primarily under those older names, with the up-to-date name noted in the text. Asters are a good example, most of whose North American species have been removed to the genus Symphyotrichum. The reason for listing them under the old name is simply practical: a bit of traffic monitoring finds that many people search the Internet for Aster puniceus (for example) and find this site, but so far not a single visitor has been searching for Symphyotrichum puniceum.

Doubtless there are many errors here, including incorrect identifications. Corrections left as comments are welcomed with open arms and a grateful heart.

Using these pictures: This site is a public service, if it may be dignified with that title. The photographs are all taken by Mr. Christopher Bailey, who grants permission to reuse them (preferably with credit) on any noncommercial Web site. For print publication, most of these photographs are available as high-resolution files. Requests for permission to use the photographs in print, or for commercial purposes, may be made as comments, here or on the articles where the photographs appear.

Some of the pictures are hosted on Wikimedia Commons (you can tell which ones by looking at the image URL). These have been released into the public domain, and no permission whatsoever is required for any use.

16 responses

  1. Bob BrueckL

    great site! Magnificent photos!
    Congratulations! And thank you for sharing
    your work.

    Bob BrueckL

    September 19, 2010 at 3:41 pm

  2. Daria Snider

    What a cool idea! This is a beautiful site – I can only imagine the time and effort that has gone into it.

    October 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

  3. Hello.

    I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and moved recently to Manhattan, where I work as an angler, artist, and author. I have briefly mentioned several wildflower species in my first two collections of essays, but for the third, I am concentrating on the “Wildflowers of the West Village” . . . a project similar to the one you have going for The Burgh. I invite you to take a look at: http://www.wildflowersofthewestvillage.com


    October 15, 2010 at 11:43 pm

  4. Sally Edwards

    Hello Chris, I just came across your site when searching for images of Pokeroot on google. Was looking for good photos to help with identification – and found one! Just wanted to say great work and great photos.
    I also wander about taking photos of wild herbs in the city where I live. I’m sure folk wonder what I’m doing kneeling in the dirt taking close-ups of ‘weeds’ …

    October 17, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    • Dr. Boli

      Experience of life in the big city suggests that almost everyone who passes by has seen people doing far odder things than kneeling in the dirt taking pictures.

      October 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

  5. Timothy C. Choltco

    Interesting website. I have a BS in botany and work primarily with orchids of S. E. Asia. I have hiked extensively in Allegheny County and Central PA searching for, photographing, collecting, and pressing specimens (when possible). I have amassed a large number of photographs from the area. If you would be interested in some of my photographs please feel free to contact me. Tim

    November 8, 2010 at 1:22 pm

  6. Ruby

    Thank you for your efforts here! I am trying to identify a plant which is in the background of one of your mint photos — please see:


    It is a 5-lobed, serrate, opposite leaf. My example seems to be like a vine, and some leaves are 7 lobed. I am stumped; my best guess is a Japanese Maple, which i doubt is correct.
    Many thanks again.

    June 5, 2011 at 8:40 am

  7. Mark Leech

    Hi Christopher,

    I am writing a nfp book on planting for pollen and nectar in Australia and am seeking permission to use your photo of Melissa officanalis. Kind regards Mark

    June 14, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    • Dr. Boli

      You’re welcome to use the picture, and we’re delighted to be of help.

      June 14, 2011 at 11:48 pm

  8. I just found your site and would love to receive your new posts as they happen. Thanks!

    July 17, 2011 at 12:28 pm

  9. Justin Collinger

    Thanks for this resource, it’s one of my favorite websites to visit. I live in the Pittsburgh area and hike Schenley Park and Frick Park frequently. I was wondering if you would like contributions (uncredited) to this database. I have a very nice camera and see some plants and flowers that aren’t yet mentioned on this site when I go hiking – Virginia Jumpseed, Feverfew, Devil’s Beggarticks, Spanish Needles, Burnweed, Air Potato vine, etc. I would be glad to contribute to the project if you would like.

    Thanks and keep up the good work.

    August 30, 2011 at 1:13 pm

  10. Hi Cristopher,

    during my search for informations about Conyza canadensis, I found your Flora Pittsburghensis. I run a similar project about plants in Emsland (Germany):


    I know how much work is put in such a flora. That’s almost a life’s work. I wish you much fun and success with your informative and beautifully illustrated website.

    Greetings from Meppen,
    David Janssen

    February 7, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  11. Sylvia Huestis

    I am a Howard County, Maryland, Master Gardener working with our Columbia, Maryland, Watershed Manager. He has been awarded a Chesapeake and Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to install approximately 160 rain gardens in our city on a cost-share basis (25% customer, 75% grant). This program has been instituted to clean our waterways. We are developing a brochure so our customers can identify their plants. I am asking your permission to use your photo of Mist Flower which I found on Google for this educational purpose. ( I was referred back to your site.) We will get no financial gain and would be willing to include your name and website with the picture.
    Yours truly, Sylvia Huestis, volunteer

    July 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    • Dr. Boli

      You’re welcome to use the picture, and good luck with your brochure.

      July 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm

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