Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Liliaceae

Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)

Ornithogalum-umbellatum-2013-05-21-Brookline-01

A European native that has made itself quite at home here, Star of Bethlehem can often be found in weedy patches of low grass. Until it blooms, its narrow leaves are hard to distinguish from the grass around them. The six-pointed white flowers are unmistakable, with six yellow-tipped stamens whose flattened “filaments” seem to form a miniature duplicate flower inside the larger one. This plant was blooming in late May beside a gas-station parking lot in Brookline.

Although most traditional references place the Star of Bethlehem in the lily family Liliaceae, modern botanists separate it into the asparagus family Asparagaceae.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

ORNITHÓGALUM [Tourn.] L. STAR OF BETHLEHEM. Perianth of 6 (white) spreading 3-7-nerved divisions. Filaments 6, flattened-awl-shaped. Style 3-sided; stigma 3-angled. Capsule roundish-angular, with few dark and roundish seeds in each cell, loculicidal. — Scape and linear channeled leaves from a coated bulb. Flowers corymbed, bracted; pedicels not jointed. (A whimsical name from ornis, a bird, and gala, milk.)

O. umbellàtum L. Scape 1-2.5 dm. high; flowers 5-8, on long and spreading pedicels; perianth-divisions green in the middle on the outside. — Escaped from gardens. (Introd. from Eu.)


Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum)

Polygonatum-biflorum-2013-05-08-Fox-Chapel-01

Little green bells dangle from arching stalks, almost invisible unless you look for them. The name “Solomon’s Seal” comes from the six-pointed scar left on the root by the withered stem; the species name “biflorum” refers to the plant’s habit of growing flowers in pairs. This plant was growing along the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel,where it was blooming in early May.

Until flower buds appear, this plant and False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum) are hard to tell apart. Both have traditionally been placed in the lily family Liliaceae, but modern botanists have separated the Asparagus family Asparagaceae, taking the Solomon’s Seals with it.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

POLYGÓNATUM [Tourn.] Hill. SOLOMON’S SEAL. Perianth cylindrical, 6-lobed at the summit; the 6 stamens inserted on or above the middle of the tube, included; anthers introrse. Ovary 3-celled, with 2-в ovules in each cell; style slender, deciduous by a joint; stigma obtuse or capitate, obscurely 3-lobed. Berry globular, black or blue; the cells 1-2-seeded. — Perennial herbs, with simple stems from creeping knotted rootetocks, naked below, above bearing nearly sessile or half-clasping nerved leaves, and axillary nodding greenish flowers; pedicels jointed near the flower. (Name from poly-, many, and gony, knee, alluding to the numerous joints of the rootstock.)

P. biflòrum (Walt) Ell. (SMALL S.) Glabrous, except the ovate-oblong or lance-oblong nearly sessile leaves, which are commonly minutely pubescent as well as pale or glaucous underneath; stem slender (3-9 dm. high); peduncles 1-3- but mostly 2-flowered; perianth 10-12 mm. long; filaments papillose-roughened, inserted toward the summit of the perianth. (? P. boreale Greene; P. cuneatum Greene; Salomonta biflora Farwell.) — Wooded hillsides, N. B. to Fla., w. to Ont., e. Kan., and Tex.

 


Wake-Robin, Pink Form (Trillium erectum)

Trillium-erectum-pink-2013-05-01-Fox-Chapel-01The ordinary color of this flower is deep mahogany red, but in the Squaw Run valley the flowers are almost always white. Occasionally a pink one shows up, as this one did, which was blooming at the beginning of May.

The odor  is described in the Flora of North America as “like a wet dog,” which is unmistakable, and accounts for another common name, Stinking Willie. It’s not a flower to sniff with delight.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRÍLLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT. Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens б; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. — Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tree, three; all the parts being in threes.) — Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower pediceled; connective narrow, not produced; leaves subsessile.

Anthers at anthesis exceeding the stigmas.

T. eréctum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic, shortly acuminate; peduncle (2—8 cm. long) usually more or less inclined or declínate; petals ovate to lanceolate (18-36 mm. long), brown-purple or often white or greenish or pinkish; stamens exceeding the stout distinct spreading or recurved stigmas; ovary purple; fruit ovoid, 2.5 cm. long, reddish. — Rich woods, e. Que. to Ont., southw. to Pa. and in the mts, to N. C. — Flowers ill-scented.


False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum)

Also known as Smilacina racemosa, and placed by some botanists in the Asparagus family Asparagaceae; the on-line Flora of North America, however, keeps it among the lilies in Liliaceae.

The plant is sometimes also called “False Spikenard.” It seems a little unfair to call this a “false” anything, and some people prefer to call it a “Solomon’s Plume,” a name one suspects was given to the plant by some amateur botanist as a sort of consolation prize. It is true, however, that the plant is hard to tell from a Solomon’s Seal before the flowers start to appear. Once the distinctive plume of little white flowers appears, there’s no mistaking the difference. These plants were blooming in late May along the Squaw Run Valley in Fox Chapel.

Gray describes the genus Smilacina (nnow usually included in Maianthemum) and the species S. racemosa:

SMILACÍNA Desf. FALSE SOLOMON’S SEAL. Perianth 6-parted, spreading, withering-persistent. Filaments 6, slender; anthers short, introrse. Ovary 3-celled, with 2 ovules in each cell; style short and thick; stigma obscurely 3-lobed. Berry globular, 1-2-seeded, at first greenish or yellowish-white speckled with madder brown, at length a dull subtranslucent ruby red. —Perennial herbs, with simple stems from creeping or thickish rootstocks, alternate nerved mostly sessile leaves, and white, sometimes fragrant flowers. (Name a diminutive of Smilax.)

Flowers on very short pedicels in a terminal racemose panicle; stamens exceeding the small (2 mm. long) segments; ovules collateral; rootstock stout, fleshy.

S. racemosa (L.) Desf. (FALSE SPIKENARD.) Minutely downy (4-10 dm. high); leaves numerous, oblong or oval-lanceolate, taper-pointed, ciliate, abruptly somewhat petioled. (Vagnera Morong.) — Moist copses and banks.


Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

The Great White Trillium loves to grow in vast colonies. It’s not all that common, but when you do find a stand of them, it may cover acres, as it does here along the aptly named Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel, where these plants were all blooming at the end of April.

Sometimes a flower takes on a pink flush as it ages, as you see in two of the examples here.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRÍLLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT. Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens б; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. — Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tree, three; all the parts being in threes.) — Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

T. grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb. Leaves less broadly rhombic-ovate; pedicel erect or ascending; petals oblanceolate, often broadly so (4-6 cm. long), white turning rose-color or marked with green; stamens with stout filaments (persistently green about the fruit) and anthers, exceeding the very slender erect or suberect and somewhat coherent stigmas; fruit subglobose. Rich woods, w. Que. and w. Vt. to Minn., Mo., and N. C.

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In Wild Flowers Every Child Should Know, Frederic William Stack gives us this description:

LARGE FLOWERED WAKE-ROBIN

Trillium grandiflbrum. Lily Family.

The Trilliums rank among the foremost of our native woodland wild flowers, and they possess an individuality that compares favourably with the exclusive traits of the Arbutus, the Gentians, the Lobelias, and the Orchids. This beautiful, large, white-flowered species is one of the choicest and best known of its family. It is found during May and June, in damp, rich woods, and grows from eight to eighteen inches high. The single, smooth, stout, juicy stalk terminates with a whorl of three large, handsome, broadly egg-shaped, triple-ribbed leaves which taper suddenly at the apex and are narrowed to a stemless base. They are loose-textured, prominently veined, and toothless. The large, waxy-white, solitary flower is borne on a short stem that springs upright from the centre of the leaves. The three thin, broad, strongly veined, and long-pointed petals are larger and much longer than the three spreading, green, lanceshaped sepals, and they turn outward with a large graceful curve. They are scentless, and as they age they become pink. The single berry is nearly black when matured. This showy-flowered Trillium ranges from Canada to Florida, and west to Minnesota and Missouri.


Wake-Robin (Trillium erectum)

The Wake-Robin comes in several colors, but the most common is this beautiful mahogany red. This plant grew above the Squaw Run in Fox Chapel, where it was blooming in late April. Most of the others of the same species in the Squaw Run valley are white (see pictures here and here); the same species may also bloom in greenish-yellow. The odor  is described in the Flora of North America as “like a wet dog,” which is unmistakable, and accounts for another common name, Stinking Willie. It’s not a flower to sniff with delight.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRÍLLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT. Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens б; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. — Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tree, three; all the parts being in threes.) — Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower pediceled; connective narrow, not produced; leaves subsessile.

Anthers at anthesis exceeding the stigmas.

T. eréctum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic, shortly acuminate ; peduncle (2—8 cm. long) usually more or less inclined or declínate; petals ovate to lanceolate (18-36 mm. long), brown-purple or often white or greenish or pinkish; stamens exceeding the stout distinct spreading or recurved stigmas; ovary purple; fruit ovoid, 2.5 cm. long, reddish. — Rich woods, e. Que. to Ont., southw. to Pa. and in the mts, to N. C. — Flowers ill-scented.

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“The flowers of the purple trillium have a disagreeable odor and a purple-red color something like that of raw meat. The flower has no nectar, and the scent and color seem intended to attract the green carrion flies. The pollen they find in the blossom is quite to their taste, and as there is an abundance of it they cannot help carrying a few grains to the next flower they visit. In late summer a red berry stands stiffly on the stem, in place of the flower, and gives a brighter touch of color to the woods.”

——Alice Mary Dowd, Our Common Wild Flowers of Springtime and Autumn.


Wake-Robin, Yellow Form (Trillium erectum)

This rare greenish-yellow form of the Wake-Robin grew above the Squaw Run in Fox Chapel, where it was blooming in late April. Wake-Robins are most commonly red, but in Fox Chapel they are almost exclusively white (see pictures here and here). The odor  is described in the Flora of North America as “like a wet dog,” which is unmistakable, and accounts for another common name, Stinking Willie. It’s not a flower to sniff with delight.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRÍLLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT. Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens б; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. — Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tree, three; all the parts being in threes.) — Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower pediceled; connective narrow, not produced; leaves subsessile.

Anthers at anthesis exceeding the stigmas.

T. eréctum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic, shortly acuminate ; peduncle (2—8 cm. long) usually more or less inclined or declínate; petals ovate to lanceolate (18-36 mm. long), brown-purple or often white or greenish or pinkish; stamens exceeding the stout distinct spreading or recurved stigmas; ovary purple; fruit ovoid, 2.5 cm. long, reddish. — Rich woods, e. Que. to Ont., southw. to Pa. and in the mts, to N. C. — Flowers ill-scented.


Daylily (Hemerocallis fulva)

This favorite garden perennial has naturalized itself quite successfully in western Pennsylvania, and huge colonies light up our roadsides in June. Countless variations have been bred for connoisseurs, but nothing matches the simple elegance of the original species. This stand grew at the edge of an overgrown thicket in an old cemetery in Beechview, where it was blooming in late June.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

HEMEROCALLIS L. DAY LILY
Perianth funnel-form, lily-like; the short tube inclosing the ovary, the spreading limb 6-parted; the 6 stamens inserted on its throat. Anthers as in Lilium, but introrse. Filaments and style long and thread-like, declined and ascending; stigma simple. Capsule (at first rather fleshy) 3-angled, loculicidally 3-valved, with several black spherical seeds in each cell. Showy perennials, with fleshy-flbrous roots; the long and linear keeled leaves 2-ranked at the base of the tall scapes, which bear at the summit several bracted and large flowers; these collapse and decay after expanding for a single day (whence the name, from hemera, a day, and kallos, beauty.)

H. fulva L. (COMMON D.) Inner divisions (petals) of the tawny orange perianth wavy and obtuse. Roadsides, escaped from gardens. (Introd. from Eu.)


Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)

Also known as Dogtooth Violet or Adder’s Tongue, this very attractive plant is as remarkable for its mottled leaves as for its yellow flowers. It likes wooded stream valleys where the soil is very rich and moist. This one was blooming in late April in the Squaw Run valley, Fox Chapel.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

ERYTHRONIUM L. DOG’S-TOOTH VIOLET

Perianth lily-like, of 6 lanceolate recurved or spreading divisions, deciduous, the 3 inner usually with a callous tooth on each side of the base, and a groove in the middle. Filaments 6, awl-shaped; anthers oblong-linear. Style elongated. Capsule obovoid, contracted at base, 3-valved, loculicidal. Seeds rather numerous. Nearly stemless herbs, with two smooth and shining flat leaves tapering into petioles and sheathing the base of the commonly one-flowered scape, rising from a deep solid scaly bulb. Flowers rather large, nodding, in spring. (The Greek name for the purple-flowered European species, from erythros, red. )

E. americanum Ker. (YELLOW ADDER’S-TONGUE). Scape 1.5-2 dm. high; leaves elliptical-lanceolate, pale green, mottled with purplish and whitish and often minutely dotted; perianth light yellow, often spotted near the base (2-4 cm. long); style club-shaped; stigmas united. Rich ground, N. B. to Fla. , w. to Out. and Ark.


Large-Flowered Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

These odd-looking plants bloom in late April; the flowers appear while the rest of the plant seems to be still under construction. They like moist woods, especially stream valleys; this plant grew in the Squaw Run valley in Fox Chapel. Supposedly not a very common plant, although it may be locally abundant, as it was here.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

UVULARIA L. BELLWORT
Perianth narrowly bell-shaped, lily-like, deciduous; the 6 divisions spatulate-lanceolate, acuminate, obtusely gibbous at base, with a deep honey-bearing groove within bordered on each side by a callus-like ridge. Stamens much shorter, barely adherent to their base. Capsule truncate, coriaceous, 3-lobed, loculicidal at the summit. Seeds few in each cell, obovoid, with a thin white aril. Stems terete, from a short rootstock with fleshy roots, naked or scaly at base, forking above, bearing oblong perfoliate flat and membranaceous leaves with smooth margins, and yellowish drooping flowers, in spring, solitary on terminal peduncles. (Name “from the flowers hanging like the uvula, or palate.”)

U. grandiflora Sm. Yellowish green, not glaucous; stern naked or with a single leaf below the fork; leaves whitish-pubescent beneath, usually somewhat acuminate; perianth-segments smooth within or nearly so (2.5-4.5 cm. long); stamens exceeding the styles, obtusely tipped; capsule obtusely lobed. (U.flava Sm.) Rich woods, w. N. H. to Ga., westw. to Minn, and Kan.


Wake-Robin, White Form (Trillium erectum var. album)

UPDATE: A kind commenter (see below) identifies this plant as Trillium erectum, and further investigation convinces us that he was correct. We had previously identified it as Trillium cernuum, and we keep Gray’s description of that species in brackets below. We always receive these corrections and suggestions with profound gratitude.

Unlike the Great White Trillium, this species is a bit bashful. You have to stoop down to appreciate its nodding flowers. The most common color is a deep mahogany red, but in this patch of woods nearly every flower (of countless thousands) was white. This one was blooming at the beginning of May along the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel. Another white Trillium erectum is here, and an unusual greenish-yellow form is here.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRILLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT
Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens 6; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tres, three; all the parts being in threes.) Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower pediceled; connective narrow, not produced; leaves subsessile.

Anthers at anthesis exceeding the stigmas.

T. eréctum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic, shortly acuminate ; peduncle (2—8 cm. long) usually more or less inclined or declínate; petals ovate to lanceolate (18-36 mm. long), brown-purple or often white or greenish or pinkish; stamens exceeding the stout distinct spreading or recurved stigmas; ovary purple; fruit ovoid, 2.5 cm. long, reddish. — Rich woods, e. Que. to Ont., southw. to Pa. and in the mts, to N. C. — Flowers ill-scented.

[Trillium cernuum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic-ovate; peduncles (833 mm. long) usually recurved; petals white or pink, ovate- to oblong-lanceolate (12-24 mm. long), wavy, recurved-spreading; filaments nearly or quite equaling the anthers; ovary white or pinkish ; stigmas stoutish, tapering from the base to the apex; fruit ovoid. Moist woods, Nfd. to Man., southw. to Pa., Mich., Minn., and in the mts. to Ga.]


Wake-Robin, White Form (Trillium erectum var. album)

Trillium-cernuum-01

UPDATE: A kind commenter (see this article) identifies this plant as Trillium erectum, and further investigation convinces us that he was correct. We had previously identified it as Trillium cernuum, and we keep Gray’s description of that species in brackets below. We always receive these corrections and suggestions with profound gratitude.

Unlike the Great White Trillium, this species is a bit bashful. You have to stoop down to appreciate its nodding flowers. The most common color is a deep mahogany red, but in this patch of woods nearly every flower (of countless thousands) was white. This one was blooming at the beginning of May along the Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel. Another white form is here, and an unusual greenish-yellow form is here.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

TRILLIUM L. WAKE ROBIN. BIRTHROOT
Sepals 3, lanceolate, spreading, herbaceous, persistent. Petals 3, larger, withering in age. Stamens 6; anthers linear, on short filaments, adnate. Styles awl-shaped or slender, spreading or recurved above, persistent, stigmatic down the inner side. Seeds ovate, horizontal, several in each cell. Low perennial herbs, with a stout and simple stem rising from a short and praemorse tuber-like rootstock, bearing at the summit a whorl of 3 ample, commonly broadly ovate, more or less ribbed but netted-veined leaves, and a terminal large flower; in spring. (Name from tres, three; all the parts being in threes.) Monstrosities are not rare with the calyx and sometimes petals changed to leaves, or the parts of the flower increased in number.

Ovary and fruit 6-angled and more or less winged.

Flower pediceled; connective narrow, not produced; leaves subsessile.

Anthers at anthesis exceeding the stigmas.

T. eréctum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic, shortly acuminate ; peduncle (2—8 cm. long) usually more or less inclined or declínate; petals ovate to lanceolate (18-36 mm. long), brown-purple or often white or greenish or pinkish; stamens exceeding the stout distinct spreading or recurved stigmas; ovary purple; fruit ovoid, 2.5 cm. long, reddish. — Rich woods, e. Que. to Ont., southw. to Pa. and in the mts, to N. C. — Flowers ill-scented.

[Trillium cernuum L. Leaves very broadly rhombic-ovate; peduncles (833 mm. long) usually recurved; petals white or pink, ovate- to oblong-lanceolate (12-24 mm. long), wavy, recurved-spreading; filaments nearly or quite equaling the anthers; ovary white or pinkish ; stigmas stoutish, tapering from the base to the apex; fruit ovoid. Moist woods, Nfd. to Man., southw. to Pa., Mich., Minn., and in the mts. to Ga.]



Great White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Trillium-grandiflorum-01

By Mayday woodland hillsides are covered with enormous colonies of this beautiful flower, especially in stream valleys. This one grew along the aptly named Trillium Trail in Fox Chapel; another large colony grows on a hillside in the Allegheny Cemetery in Lawrenceville. The genus Trillum has been variously placed in the families Liliaceae and Trilliaceae, but botanists finally seem to have settled on placing it in the family Melanthiaceae, where doubtless it will find a good home.

From Gray’s Manual of Botany: Trillium grandiflorum (Michx.) Salisb. Leaves less broadly rhombic-ovate; pedicel erect or ascending ; petals oblanceolate, often broadly so (4-6 cm. long), white turning rose-color or marked with green ; stamens with stout filaments (persistently green about the fruit) and anthers, exceeding the very slender erect or suberect and somewhat coherent stigmas; fruit subglobose. Rich woods, w. Que. and w. Vt. to Minn., Mo., and N. C.


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